In the “Hudson”

“God opens their ears and impresses them with warning to turn them back from something bad they’re planning, from some reckless choice, And keep them from an early grave, from the river of no return.” Job 13:15-18

imageA friend shared about a situation in which she wasn’t sure what to do, and then said, “I’m in the Hudson.” I looked at her with the “What ya’ talking about?” look. She explained she had seen the movie “Sully,” about the pilot who landed an airplane in the Hudson in an attempt to save the passengers and crew from a hard landing in a metropolitan area where even more devastation would occur. Thus the phrase.

Have you been in the “Hudson?” Pilot Sully chose to land in the river as a safe place. Sometimes we need a safe place to land to discern where we are going or what we need in life. I’ve been in the “Hudson” frequently this year–first with a sick husband then moving forward in grief.

The Hudson River is a long, wide river running through urban and rural areas. It’s peaceful to look at, but can be dangerous  when safety rules are not observed. Unfortunately, every year many people jump off a bridge from unresolved overwhelming painand the loss of hope for their lives.

It would be good to spend time with God “in the Hudson” before jumping into the Hudson.

Lord, help us find a safe place to land to figure out life. Amen.

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Slow down …

Jesus said, “How many times do I have to go over these things? How much longer do I have to put up with this?” Mark 9:19

importantThe disciples weren’t able to heal a man’s mute son, made speechless by a demon, and who suffered from seizures. In this scripture you see Jesus with the lack of patience. It is not a picture I form in my mind of the loving Jesus preaching, teaching, and healing. But Jesus was human, and even though he was sinless, he had emotions.

When I retired, I told myself I would never be in a hurry again (except to catch a train or go to the bathroom). I’ve done pretty well being patient when standing behind someone in a grocery store checkout line who is sorting coupons, at two-minute stop lights, and when traffic is dead on the interstate. I tell myself, “Where do I have to go to that I need to make myself crazy before getting there?”

I know people who constantly say things like,”Walk faster…when is the waitress going to bring my food…why is that old man driving below the speed limit…

Jesus showed a positive use of being impatient in dealing with the disciples’ failure to perform. We can learn from Jesus how to transform wasted, ineffective time to being impatient for good causes–making a difference in our homes, communities, nation, and the world.

Lord, help us to be impatient with issues which can make a difference in our lives. Amen.

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Keep on running …

“Run to God! Run from evil! Your body will glow with health, your very bones will vibrate with life!” Proverbs 3:7,8

goalsMany years ago my daughter, Karen, participated in a boot camp to prepare to run the Chicago Marathon. I couldn’t believe she was running, because she’d never run before. I hopped on an airplane and went there to watch her run along with the thousands of other participants. I saw her at the start, about mile eight, and waited for five hours for her to cross the finish line. I was thrilled to see her accomplish her goal to run a marathon. At that time, she said, “I’m done…no more running for me.”

I  say, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your five-year plan.” In Karen’s case, it was a ten-year plan, as early in October, she ran her second 26.2 mile marathon, running alongside her husband, Kyle. Along the way, she posted to Facebook friends, “Tired at 10, 16.2 to go … can’t stop, won’t stop …” Five hours later she wrote, “Thanks FB friends, I was wanting sooo much to stop, but I finished and Kyle finished his first 26.2 and no more.”

I wish I had been there to give her some extra wind beneath her wings and to gather her into my arms and help her back to the car! I’m proud of her determination to finish what she started. She set an example for me when I doubt myself.

Lord, help us follow through with our goals. Amen.

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Give it a try …

“For Jesus doesn’t change—yesterday, today, tomorrow, he’s always totally himself.” Hebrews 13:8

changeThis morning I went for a routine visit with my family nurse practitioner. She hadn’t seen me for six months and asked about my grieving process. I assured her that I am returning to “happy.” She said, “I’m glad you are doing so well. Maybe we should start thinking about weaning off your antidepressant.” I’ve taken the lowest dosage possible for nearly twenty-five years, and I’m not sure I want to “get off” it because I do feel so good.

For about a year, I’ve been transcribing interviews of people who have mental illness. It amazes me how many of the patients stop taking their medicines and retreat to the depth of their original diagnosis. Not just once, but several times. Each reintroduction of medication takes weeks or months to begin to work. This makes me wonder if it is worth going off a tiny little pill and slip backwards for months. Maybe I’m just showing a lack of faith in the judgment of my FNP and God.

Am I afraid the real Linda will change and not be totally herself? I tell myself this happy woman just may need that extra boost for the rest of her life. I will think and pray before beginning the process of slowly removing the daily pill, and rely on my “Earthly healer” to evaluate my needs.

Lord, help me become unstuck when discerning a change in my daily life. Amen.


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New Beginnings …

“Clean the slate, God, so we can start the day fresh!” Psalm 19:13

necklaceMy friend, Jan, and I spent a day in Santa Fe on our trip back to Arizona. Years ago I purchased a Santa Fe cross at the town square which I wore daily to the point where it no longer shined. While in the square I searched for a new one, but instead found a medallion with a scene of the desert, mountains, and rays of sun penetrating it. I asked the jewelry maker what it symbolized, and he said, “New beginnings.” I knew I had to have the necklace.

The closer I got to Sun City, I felt I was on a path to a new beginning. I wear the necklace to remind myself God is behind all my “endings” and will be there for my “beginnings.” It’s a symbol of hope for me that I may have a life with new adventures.

It’s my challenge to not want to jump ahead of what God intends for me in my life. I am ready to move out into the social scene again and enjoy activities, such as joining the singles’ dance club and trying to remember the steps I learned in junior high dance classes  and never utilized. And now that I’m seventy, I am cleaning my slate of some old memories. I’m going to dance like a teenager or a sensible senior.

Lord, let me start each day seeking new beginnings that will please you. Amen.

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Who can focus?

“Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God…. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace.” Matthew 6:6

yearsThere are times when I’m talking to a group of people I think, ” “What would people think if they saw the “backstage” Linda?” The scripture in Matthew 6 tells me that to find myself I need to go into seclusion and get simple and honest with God.

Since turning seventy, I’m no longer as concerned about “what would people say?” I’ve begun to focus on things of more importance–such as family, relationships, and maintenance of my property and finances. I’m conscientious of the unknown time I have left on Earth and desire to focus more on God’s love and grace and less time about achieving my earthly goals or life purpose.

During the months after Glen died, I could focus only an hour or two on anything. It was a wonder I packed for the six-month trip and had appropriate clothing and supplies to cover two seasons. I did forget one important item, a piece of jewelry—the cross I wear most every day. I went to a store and bought another one because I needed the cross to focus on Christ and the love and grace to move on in my faith and life journey.

Lord, thanks for leading me into a secluded place where I can reunite with you. Amen.

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The green-eyed monster …

“Can’t I do what I want with my own money?” Matthew 20:15

 blessings-in-generalThe parable of the landowner and the hired men is more complex than just hiring men all day long and paying them equal amount. It is about the “evil eye.” When the hired men were paid, starting with the one hired last up to the first hired, one can see how the green-eyed monster could show up and yell, “That’s not fair.”

When I take care of my grandsons, envy between them causes the most problems, especially after a birthday and the birthday boy gets a Lego set better than any of his. A big kid might be envious of the kid who gets to play more minutes in a game, even though he thinks he is better.

As adults, we may envy a fellow employee. One time while working in a law firm, I was promoted to office manager above three others secretaries. They wouldn’t talk to me for months.  My late husband once told how a fresh out of college employee’s starting wage was about what he had been making after nearly 20 years on the job. But he didn’t complain because he agreed to work for the salary offered.

This parable reminds us what’s right in God’s eyes is important, not what’s in our eyes. And, we need to learn to be satisfied with what we’ve been given.

Forgive us, Lord, when we are filled with envy, especially when we don’t understand your mysterious ways. Amen.

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Worthless or Worthwhile?

“You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body, and knit them together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!” Psalm 139:13

uniqueWhile on a bus tour through Europe, I kept busy knitting as we traveled between sites. Another tourist, who was also knitting, asked what I was making. I showed her my little multi-colored dish cloth under construction. She strongly suggested I make something worthwhile–like mittens or hats for little children who have none!

I still make the little dish clothes, which I tuck into a birthday card or leave at a friend’s house. It has little value, and won’t keep a little head or hands warm, but it is a gift from my hands and shared from my heart. [Excerpt from “Reflections of the Spirit, 2003 by Linda Gillis].

God wove us together in our mother’s wombs to be unique. When we challenge just how unique we are, we forget to enjoy and use the gifts God gave us. Since 2003, I’ve taken on larger knitting projects like scarves and shawls. I knit too slowly and infrequently to make a difference in the Prayer Shawl ministry at our church, but I  know how much a hand-made gift means to a person when they receive one. After Glen died, a woman from church brought me a casserole and a shawl to comfort me during the early days of my loss.

Lord, give us comfort food and the shawl of protection for all our needs. Amen.

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Leave the judging to God

“God hears it all, and from his judge’s bench puts them in their place.” Psalm 55:18

improve“Judge tenderly, if you must. There is usually a side you have not heard, a story you know nothing about, and a battle waged that you are not having to fight.” Angel from Marc and Angel Hack Life.

For years I’ve had the bad habit or maybe even a prejudice when I see a morbidly obese person riding a cart in the grocery store. I find myself looking into their cart to see what kind of unhealthy food they are putting into it. Any Twinkies? Chips? Ben and Jerry’s ice cream? I know it is none of my business what they eat or whether or not they have to ride a cart because their legs won’t carry them around the store anymore.

By judging the obese people, I still don’t know what caused their problem to become so heavy—a thyroid condition? A great loss being filled with food? Family history of obesity? Perhaps they have a condition that can’t be helped. Once again. It is none of my business.

And there is the possibility someone may wonder why I’ve got a bottle of wine and a 12-pack of  beer in my cart and judge me to be an alcoholic. And, it is none of their business either.

When we can control our instinct to judge, it will open up the opportunity to learn something about another person.

Lord, forgive me when I judge. Amen.

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What is decency?

“If the way you live isn’t consistent with what you believe, then it’s wrong.” Romans 14:23

lovetrustI read a post by a Christian pastor, Max Lucado, titled Decency for Presidents. Lucado has three teenage daughters. He told how the girls cannot leave the house with a date until the young man has a short interview with him and his wife to try to determine if the potential date is “decent.” Will he treat his daughter with kindness and respect? Bring her home on time? He observes the potential date’s language and actions to determine if they are in line with their family beliefs and expectations.

Lucado went on to say, “If the leading Republican candidate to be the next leader of the free world would not pass my decency interview, I’d send him away. I’d tell my daughter to stay home. I wouldn’t entrust her to his care.” That’s a strong statement of how I feel also. If someone’s character is misaligned with my values and beliefs about decency, I cannot support him or her. I have a friend who says, “I can’t vote for either candidate this year. I’m going to write in “Linda Gillis.” I thought, “If I were to be a candidate for any office, would I be accused of not showing consistency in what I believe?”

Whichever of the two candidates prevail, it will take a lot of prayer to get through the next four years.

Lord, help us discern what is consistent with our beliefs. Amen.

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