February 10, 2010

I Need God

One of the most striking lines, I believe, in the hymn "Amazing Grace" is "how precious did that grace appear the hour I first believed".

Take it out of a song (beautiful as it is), and imagine the most honest, sincere, and genuine person you know saying it.  "How precious did that Grace appear, the hour I first believed!"  In my head (heart?) I always hear it spoken with a touch of awe, and a special emphasis on the idea that the Grace was something precious.  Consider all the words not used - especially the word, valuable.  What is the difference between 'valuable' and 'precious'?  And, what can this difference, coupled with the fact that one was used in this line and one was not, tell us about the nature of Grace?

I've written about God's grace before, here, but with a somewhat different approach.  That was a day when I was particularly aware of how God truly does "work in mysterious ways" and of His grace in my life.  Today, while I don't feel forsaken or anything, I'm more aware of needing His Grace.

Consistent with my typical modus operandi, I've been trying to formulate a plan of action to cope with some challenges in my life at the moment.  As I see it, I'm functioning within a framework (aka reality) and need to identify what I need to do what I have to in response.  My framework at the moment involves many layers:
  1. As you probably know, I'm in busy season as an auditor.  We are currently in manditory 55-hour weeks (as a minimum), and our hard-and-fast deadlines have no built in wiggle room.
  2. As you probably also know, my entire region has been walloped with 2 monster storms so far this week (I live just outside Philadelphia and work at clients in southeast PA, DE, and NJ).  This affects the obvious things (travel), the somewhat less obvious (my health), and the surprising (our work deadlines and mandatory hours must be met regardless of 3 feet of snow, super-active inflamation, or anything else).
  3. I was already on the verge of a respiratory infection.  My body has been throwing every single signal I can recoginze at me since late last week (ah, signals, glad for the heads up but not much use since I can't change my life).  Add the severe cold (breathing cold air can help bring on infections - read a very good article on it here), INTENSELY long days (usually16 hrs or so from leaving to getting home, up to 6 days a week), and the mental/emotional strain of the job, and it gets rough.
  4. This morning, my Poppy passed away.  Well technically he's my husband's grandfather, but he and Shawn's grandmother have made me one of their own - not an in-law, but a grandchild in my own right.  They live in the apartment below ours, and we're all very close.  Poppy has been on a rapid decline for a couple of months, and came home on hospice care a few weeks ago.  I got stuck in Wilmington for two nights due to the storm (my job required me to stay in walking distance from the client rather than have snow days off)...and naturally that was last night and tonight.  It'll be two full days before I can be with the family, when all I want to do is find any way I can to help them now.  Even when I finally get home tomorrow (I'll be trying to leave "early" [maybe 5 pm], so I'm working a few extra hours tonight from the hotel to make up the time), I'll still have to turn around and head back the next morning for 16 hour days Friday and Saturday.
So I was thinking about what I have to do to get through this.  And (pardon my business-y approach) that involves identifying what resources I need.  I can't get time off right now, there's no medicine to really head this off (and I'm already stocked with what I'll need if I do get sick), and I'm as bundled against the weather as I can be for now.  I have more things to get done than time in which to do them, so something's just going to have to wait, and as I see it that's some self-maintenance things for now (extra sleep on my day off, etc).  The other things (like doing anything people will let me help with for Poppy's funeral) take more energy so I have to do them first while I have the energy to work with.  And then it FINALLY hit me, the one thing I still need after all that analysis is God's Grace.  I need His gifts and favor to get through.  If He sees fit, it is His will (and really at this point, His will alone) that will keep me from getting sick right now and that will show me a strength and energy reserve I can't currently find.  I'm trying to live another of my favorite hymns, "Make Me a Channel of Your Peace" (from the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi), especially the line "oh Master, grant that I may never seek so much to be consoled as to console", and I get the reward of knowing He will provide me with the things I need to follow through.

I guess this feels like such a revelation for me because I'm such a firm believer that God helps those who help themselves - your actions won't change God's will, but they will show Him if you are trying to take responsibility and be proactive as opposed to lazily expecting Him to provide without your effort.  But right now I'm confident I'm doing everything in my human power, so at this point that means God's all that's left.  He's the missing piece that completes the circuit and will keep me going - without Him I am nothing, but with Him all is possible.  And, some icing for the cake - God's Grace is this gift, to let me push myself physically beyond my limits for the sake of those I love and am responsible to, to be of comfort and help to my family even though I had thought I was already drained...and the gift which allows me to take solice in Him.  I have faith.  More than trust alone, which is a reliance on a proven or logical fact, my faith allows me to rely on that for which I have no external proof, and to do so with true relief.  I am living for God, trying to do my best and His work, and I know that in return He will let me turn over some of my burden to him for a while.  Which brings me to one more of my favorite hymns - "Be Not Afraid":

Be not afraid,
I go before you always.
Come, follow me,
and I will give you rest.

February 2, 2010

World Salt Awareness Week

So I have a silver lining that I greatly enjoy.  Since my dysautonomia causes me to have unstable and frequently low blood pressure (adds to fast pulse and complicated by/with Sjogrens dryness problems), we had to find a way for me to keep my pressure up and stable.  There's medicines - beta blockers - but as I mentioned in a previous post they are complicated to use and often come with severe side effects.  The preferred line of defense is to keep my pressure up 'naturally'.  And what raises blood pressure?  Anyone?  Anyone at all?  SALT!

That's right, when everyone else starts chastising someone for eating too much salt, I get to launch into a lecture on why I MUST HAVE IT!  I get to eat as many pickles, pretzels, and soy sauce-soaked foods as my little heart desires.  (Ok not quite...if I overdo it I swell like the blueberry girl in Willy Wonka and can't bend my joints, but it takes quite a bit to reach that point.)

So, in honor of my favorite side effect...I give you World Salt Awareness Week!  It's amazing the things you can find when trying to Google the 3M paper bra-turned paper mask story to prove to your husband you're always right...

Anyone else get to enjoy this or another unexpected perk from your condition(s)?  Every once in a while we have fun:)