Out of Gas

…Funny  how empty the house can seem after Christmas.  The last of the family members just pulled out of the driveway and the house is suddenly quiet…  No more squeals, pitter patter of little feet, giggles or “Mom…she’s trying to get my stuff!”  I miss that “music”. I’m so grateful that my children and grandchildren live close by…but there is still something a little sad about the day after Christmas.   Part of the reason, I think, is that I’m exhausted.  I love Christmas time and all the music, baking, cooking, decorating and wrapping that goes with it.  Most of the time I love it…but sometimes I’m just tired.  Today, after some cleaning up, to be honest I felt like I was all out of the “giving spirit”.  I then caught up on the on-line news and read about a tragic fire in New England, killing a woman’s three children and her parents early Christmas morning.  I then felt very sad all afternoon.   This made me feel even less like giving.  Frankly, I felt like I was “out of gas”.

Have you ever been driving and run out of gas?   I have.  I remember years ago (pre-children days) when our dog ran away.  I had let him out last thing before going to bed… and he didn’t return the entire night.  I couldn’t sleep from worrying about our little cocker spaniel.  The next day, as we searched the neighborhood I discovered that a neighbor living about a half mile away also had a dog that was missing.  It was an Afghan hound who happened to be  “in heat”.  I put two and two together and figured that my male dog was likely wherever her female dog was.  I called the local animal shelter (local in that it was in the state…about thirty miles away in a rural area) and was told that in fact they had picked up a cocker spaniel and an Afghan hound the night before.  I asked my neighbor if she would like for me to retrieve her dog when I got ours.  She was happy with my offer.   I hopped in my little Volkswagen and drove to pick them up.

After getting them “out of jail”  I began the drive back home when I noticed that my car began sputtering…and sputtering – and then stopped.  In my worry and haste upon leaving to get the dogs I had failed to notice that my car’s gas tank was nearly empty.   I was completely out of gas.  There were no cell phones yet, so I surmised I would need to walk to the nearest phone (which was quite a distance) to get help.  Meanwhile, I had my dog (and the neighbor’s dog in heat) sitting in the back seat of my little car.  Agreeing to pick them both up in my little car was the first stupid thing I did that day.  Not only had I failed to fill my tank, but now that I was on empty – havoc was preparing to rule.  I had not mentally or physically prepared myself for this journey.  I then somehow found some kind of rope (not sure what kind – perhaps it was even dental floss) and tied one dog to one door handle inside the car and the other dog to the other door handle.  They began to howl.  It was not a pretty sight.  I then ventured out (I think with tears) to find some fuel.   Fortunately, I was able to summon some help and received enough fuel to make it to a gas station.

This is sort of what I felt like today.  Out of gas and feeling “on empty”.  I thought about the choices I could make.  One was to get some much needed rest (which I did).   I remembered how Elijah had gone from an incredible day of great victory and rejoicing to feeling weak and “down” the next day.  1 Kings 19:4-5

    while he himself went a day’s journey into the desert. He came to a broom tree, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” [5] Then he lay down under the tree and fell asleep.

    All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.”

The rest and some nourishment helped.  I could then choose to think about all things sad and pick up other’s sorrows as well or set my mind differently.  (While it is good to feel compassion…when there is nothing I can do for a situation I realize I “simply” need to take it to God.)   Most of all, I needed refueling.  This meant I needed to humbly seek help and to search for a “filling station”.   It’s not necessarily simple to get there right away.  Sometimes we have to “tie up” the distractions in the back seat and get out of the car to find help and a source for fuel.  So, I tried to “tie up” the distractions that were howling in the back of my mind and searched for spiritual fuel.  I was ministered to by the scriptures I read.  I count on, and prayed to claim the promise in  Ephes. 3:16

    I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being,

Then I read some more scriptures.  It never ceases to amaze me how “alive and active” they are.   I prayed that God would fill me up so I could give some more, and he did.  I have been so very blessed by God.   I know if I imitate Jesus that means I need to keep on giving and loving even when I’m feeling tired of giving. Jesus did this again and again, no matter the circumstance.  Amazing!   I’m so grateful that God, through His Spirit, continually fills us so that there is always something to give.  Romans 5:5

    And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.


Snippets of Love

The Christmas cards almost didn’t go out this year due to “communication stuckness”.  This is a ‘condition’ that sometimes affects me.  It happens when there is so much to say, or so many things to catch up on that I don’t know where to start.  Unfortunately, the result can mean that I “get stuck”.  

My husband tells me my brain seldom rests…I’m always thinking about something which can lead to “information overload”. Then, my communication can get out of sync with what goes on in my head and cause “communication stuckness”. For example, when my mom was still living I made it a goal to write her weekly. At first I used “snail mail” but later we communicated by e-mail.  Since she was deaf for many years she relied on written communication.  I thought about writing her nearly every day, however too often I would get “stuck” when actually trying to follow through on that intention. Often it seemed there was so much to say that I would not know where to start – so that I wrote less often than I wished.  My sister suggested that instead of trying to write “more” less often – I could write “less” more often….perhaps a few sentences several times a week.  She suggested that I could even forward an interesting or humorous article that I’d received from someone else.  It was more important that I say something to let her know I was thinking of her.

At times I can find the same challenge of “overload stuckness” in my communication with God.  I think about Him throughout the day, and communicate often in my head (and heart). However, I can get “stuck”  when I feel there is so much  to pray about that I can’t even remember it all – and feel  it would take hours each day just to mention everything I need and want to pray about.  I know that communication with God in prayer and in hearing him through the scriptures is the most important part of my life – so I want to overcome the “communication stuckness”  that sometimes occurs.

I am grateful for the instruction and challenges in the scriptures.  1 Thes. 5:16-18 states:

    Be joyful always; [17] pray continually; [18] give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

I learn from this that throughout the day I can  give  “love snippets” of gratitude ….. shorter expressions of love to God throughout the day.  He wants to know I am thinking of him.

I also realize that communication  takes preparation, watchfulness and devotion.  It takes hard work and discipline as described by the term “wrestling” in the scriptures below.

Col. 4:2     Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.

Col. 4:12   Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured.

I’m going forward with a plan to help me overcome “communication stuckness”-  so that I can be a better “prayer wrestler”…. more devoted, watchful and thankful.  I crafted a little organizational tool to help me with this.  It’s a simple laminated bookmark with an “assigned by me” topic for prayer focus each day.  For me, when there is a lot of information to pray about and act upon I get lost and stuck without organization.  I’ve found it helpful to have specific days for specific focus.  I plan to use this to accompany the snippets of communication throughout the day.

I can also learn to be more effective in communicating my appreciation to others more often by using shorter snippets instead getting stuck in overload.  It is even “okay” to simply sign my Christmas cards with the short note  – “Love, the Shaws”. If I tried to write more I might still be stuck, pen in hand, with a pile of envelopes by my side.

This year, in thinking about communicating snippets of love more often, I tried something special while getting my cards out.  I highly recommend it if you choose to send cards (a personal preference thing).  As I quickly stamped each card, I thought of my favorite memory with the addressee and then thanked God for them. ( I didn’t take time to write those memories,…otherwise, I’d still be writing and no cards would have gone out.) After I had done this I felt very full and blessed to have such wonderful friends and family in my life