Friday, September 26, 2014

Focus Friday: Let's Focus on Weakness

You may have been wondering why I didn't write my usual Focus Friday last week. Well, to make a long story short, I was in a pretty dark place that day. My stress level was still extremely high with all of the demands of my new teaching job. Now, mind you, for some people the demands would be stressful, but manageable. For me, for some reason, they became unmanageable.

I don't think the students realized how uncomfortable I was, but I was stressing way too much when I wasn't at the job. It was affecting my physical, emotional, and even spiritual health. People tried to help. Gary listened, gave support and encouragement, and hoped I would feel better. Other teachers offered their help and were very supportive, but I didn't take advantage of their help soon enough. Life became a blur of work and worry. I prayed and tried to read my Bible for help, but my negative thoughts ran rampant and drowned out any comfort God tried to give me.

By Saturday, we decided that it was time to go to the hospital for more help for my depression. I had gone on some medicine the week before, but it wasn't helping yet and I was thinking some pretty scary thoughts. A stop in the emergency room and a transfer a few hours later to a hospital with an open bed brought me to the Mental Health Unit at Allen Hospital in Waterloo. I can't say enough good things about the staff there - they cared for me and all of their patients with the utmost respect, courtesy, and skill. I came home today and am feeling so much better about life.

So...that brings me to my focus for this week: weakness. In some ways it was weakness that landed me in the hospital. I felt too weak to handle the stress and demands. A friend sent a note that said I had done a "brave and smart thing by reaching out for help." Which is it? Was I weak or was I brave? Could it possibly be both? I know I am in a much better place than I was a week ago after getting some help and care. Maybe by being brave and admitting I was weak I was able to draw on some strength and experience some growth. I know I'll have to keep going back to that place of strength as I keep getting better and deal with the disappointment of letting the teaching job go.

As you can imagine, I'm still sorting all of this out. I have appreciated the prayers of so many friends and family members during this time. Keep praying. For this week, I just wanted to remind myself and all of you that weakness is not always a bad thing. It can show us what our limits are. It can teach us about ourselves and others. It can knock down our walls of pride and teach us to reach out for help.

Another friend from church wrote out some verses for me and I kept them on my bedside table at the hospital. The one that helped the most was this:

My STRENGTH is made perfect in WEAKNESS
2 Corinthians 12:9 (That's the way she wrote it on the card)

And on the back she printed the entire verse:

Each time he said, "No. But I am with you; that is all you need. My power shows up best in weak people." Now I am glad to boast about how weak I am; I am glad to be a living demonstration of Christ's power, instead of showing off my own power and abilities. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

Isn't that a beautiful reminder? We don't have to be perfect. We just have to be faithful and people will see Christ's power in us...even when we are very weak.

I think I'll end with that. I have so much more to say, but it will have to wait for another Friday.


Do you ever feel weak? Do you accept that about yourself and see how it can show God's strength or do you fight it and deny that weakness? How can focusing on God help you to "boast" about how weak you really are?

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Focus Friday: Let's Focus on Getting Away

Have you ever had a rough week? A week full of ups and downs that leave you disoriented and shaky? I did, but I finally asked for some help and ended the week on an upswing. I got home from school today and suggested to Gary that we go see a movie. We ended up going to McDonald's, getting some stuffed animals at Goodwill (for my Spanish class), seeing a movie, and running a couple of other errands. It was great. It was a chance to reconnect after a busy week and just enjoy some time together.

The lesson plans, etc. will be waiting for me tomorrow morning, but tonight I was able to put work out of my mind and enjoy something else. That's good for me. I need to learn how to do that more effectively. Seems like so often I don't really enjoy doing something because the next obligation or task is niggling at the back of my mind. I think that's one thing God is going to teach me in the months and years ahead. Do your work well, but when you take a break and get away from it for a while, do that well, too. We can't drag every worry or doubt with us through every experience of every day. Thinking like that wears you down and eventually makes you sick - body, mind, and soul.

That's where my focus is today. Let's all keep praying for each other as we seek to keep our focus on God through all of the obligations, challenges, and joys of life.

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matthew 11:28-30 The Message)

Are you good at really getting away and relaxing after a busy week? Take some time to practice those "unforced rhythms of grace" this weekend. Keep your focus on God in all aspects of life.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Focus Friday: Let's Focus on Faith

It's Friday again...and here I am. Another week has gone by and my emotions have been up and down. I love so much about teaching, but I have to admit that it's been very stressful at times. It's hard getting used to new things, new routines, new tasks. The computer is still giving me fits as I try to figure out how to give assignments, get assignments, give and grade quizzes. Hopefully the students will continue to be patient with me as I figure it out.

This week I received the CD by Jenny Simmons (lead singer of Addison Road) in the mail and I listened to it on the way to school, and I've been listening to it every day since then. It has so many good songs that seem to be hitting me right where I'm at. I think I'll leave you this week with the lyrics to one of my favorites and see if it might resonate with some of you, too. (You can also go to and listen to it there.)

Let's keep praying for each other as we go through the joys and challenges of life. Let's keep our focus on God and the strength that He gives each of us. Let's never forget that God has great plans for us. It just takes courage to step into those plans and become who God has made us to be. That's what faith's about.

What Faith's About by Jenny Simmons

What if I what I have is not enough and all I hold You ask me to give up?
What if you require bravery but I'm clinging to the edge too scared to leave?

But what if I jump and I find I was always made to fly?
What if the days I'm walking into are the best of my whole life?
What if the things that I dreamed become my reality?
When it looks impossible but still works out
What if that's what faith's about?

What if that's what faith's about?

What if I'm not sure I heard You right and I found a thousand reasons not to try?
And what if I can't face the great unknown but there's no way back and nowhere left to go?

But what if I jump and I find I was always made to fly?
What if the days I'm walking into are the best of my whole life?
What if the things that I dreamed become my reality?
When it looks impossible but still works out
What if that's what faith's about?

So who am I not to be, not to be everything that You have called me?
And who am I not to speak, not to speak to every mountain that's before me?

But what if I try even when I'm scared and Your courage meets me there?
What if I hope against all hope and believe in every prayer

What if I jump and I find I was always made to fly?
What if the days I'm walking into are the best of my whole life?
What if the things that I dream become my reality?
When it looks impossible, but still works out
Oh, when it looks impossible, but still works out
What if that's what faith's about?

Do you have new challenges in life right now? Are you keeping your focus where it should be - on God - or are you focused too much on what you can or can't do? How can you make a conscious choice to get that focus back where it needs to be?