Tag Archives: priorities

Fighting The Good Fight

IMG_0858David and I brought Mike home in a 3X6 box yesterday. For now he is resting on the top shelf of the closet we shared covered in that silly Panama Jack hat he liked in Seaworld’s gift shop. Forty two years of a life together and when it’s done you’re handed a box. Talk about putting things in perspective!

My son and I sat in the car and cried together, feeling as if we’re living the book of Ecclesiastes right now. The things of Earth have become extremely dim and eternity seems very near.  Nothing here matters In this moment; not our homes, our cars, food, money, the long, long, long to do list, or even David’s soon to be published book. I admit, I’m saddened the death of his father has stolen David’s excitement for his accomplishment.

“Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity. What does man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun?” Ecclesiastes 1:1.

Heaven is near and reminding us of what really matters. Obviously we must continue living and find provision for our journey here, but all of that is far less important than knowing the Father Heart of God and loving people.

Whatever time remains for us, we will continue honoring Mike’s legacy by doing just that, until it is our turn to proclaim:

“ I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved His appearing,” 2 Timothy 4:7-8.

Welcome home, Michael Connis!

The Reward of Staying

I know someone who never stayed – for anything – marriages, children, jobs, family, friends.

Offended? Leave. Conflict? Forget it. Difficulty? Run.

Everytime.

As soon as the next bump in the road arose (small, medium, large, mountains, molehills, anthills) it was time to run again.

And again. And again. Burning every bridge until nothing was left.

Then the Golden Years arrived. A time to reap the benefits of staying: Children. Grandchildren. Retirement. Relationships. Friendships. Money saved. Home owned. Travel. Wisdom. Influence. Respect.

But there was nothing. Absolutely nothing but sad alone-ness, with barely enough to sustain an existence. Life’s garden had become a barren weed patch with no harvest in sight.barren

Though it’s never too late to start over, the rewards of staying aren’t instant. They build slowly and mundanely over time, growing with consistency, routine, responsibility, trust, effort, plodding, endurance, work, sacrifice, discipline, selflessness.

Days turn into seasons. Seasons into years. Years into decades. Decades into a lifetime.

Of course, there are certain circumstances where staying isn’t wise and it’s beneficial to move on, but staying can never be based on feelings. It’s a choice and often an act of love, paying great dividends, offering stability and bringing reward. Eventually.

Jesus, on the night of His arrest, told His friend Peter, “I could call on my Father to send more than twelve legions of angels to help me now. But how would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say this must happen?” (Matthew 26:53-54)

He stayed all the way to brutal death on a cross, all the way to, “It is finished.”

He chose to endure the cross “for the joy set before Him” (Hebrews 12:2). What was that joy? I believe it was restoring relationship with Me and You! He stayed for Us!

In the short term, cut and run may look easier, but as a habit, it perpetuates an accumulation of poor decisions. The decisions of today become tomorrow’s reality.

Before quitting, be honest about the possible long term consequences. Take time to think and pray about the influence of this decision on tomorrow and all the tomorrows after.

Never underestimate the power of staying.

Plod on.

Don’t give in.

Don’t give up.

Stick it out.

Keep the faith.

Stay the course.

Sow the harvest.

Enjoy the journey.

And EVENTUALLY..

..reap the rewards.

 

 

“Success is measured, not by how we start, but by how we finish.” ~ Mike Connis

“Let us not get tired of doing good, because in time we’ll have a harvest if we don’t give up.” Galatians 6:9

“And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom.” Luke 9:62

“I press on toward the goal..” Philippians 3:14

“The path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until the full light of day.” Proverbs 4:18

“Matthew 7:24-25 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.”

The Post No One Wants To Read

For years, after a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis at the ripe old age of twenty six, I asked, begged, pleaded and tried to brownie-point my way into God’s good graces for a healing miracle. I doubt there’s ever been a call for healing or an offer of prayer in my life I haven’t responded to.

I’ve been prayed for, in the past thirty plus years, more times then I’ll ever remember and I still believe and know that I know that I know, God can and does miraculously heal! He can heal me right now while I’m typing this with two crooked fingers. No one knows how to make the crooked straight like my Heavenly Father.

But He hasn’t. Not yet anyway.

One day, I asked Him if he was tired of me asking for healing – again! I was tired of begging and told Him so. Seems as if most of my prayers were all about me and honestly, I was tired of me.

The thought immediately downloaded into my heart and mind. “Don’t you know your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit?”

For several days, I went to bed and got up in the morning with this question stalking me. I couldn’t shake it.

“OK, God. Yeah, I know that. I’ve read it a zillion times. So what are you trying to say?”

I went and looked up 1Corinthians 6:19. “Do you not know that YOUR BODY is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who LIVES IN YOU and was GIVEN BY GOD? You do not belong to yourself.”

“You do not belong to yourself.” The answer came in the gentlest way. “I could heal you today but you will be sick again in six months. You are not giving your body what I designed for optimal health. You are not fueling it properly.”

I was stunned. After years of expecting an instant fix, this was not what I had in mind. After all I had cut my teeth on living a faith-filled, easy believe-ism, ‘God said it and He’ll do it’, name it and claim it, speak it and see it Christianity, which included the doctrine of healing.

In the meantime, my ‘temple’ was systematically falling apart and in a severe state of disrepair.

I had a big decision to make; keep doing what I’d been doing and stay sick or make a drastic change and get better. I was set on a path of discovering what God’s Health Plan is and has always been for the human body, the temple He resides in, and I had a lot of work to do.

I could write a book about my health journey from that day until now but I will just say, life has changed for this gal. I’ve learned and am still learning much; reading, researching, praying and asking for discernment and wisdom.books

In this internet age there’s plenty of information out there, some of it misleading, but I’m encouraged to ask for wisdom from my Father (James 1:5). Who else knows better what my body needs to operate optimally but the one who made it? I don’t examine anything without first asking God to show me what I should accept or disregard. He’s been my best teacher.

Though still limited by severe joint damage, I’ve been off all medications for over ten years. Four years ago when I started having reoccurring outbreaks of urticaria hives, I kicked it up a few notches and went for a ninety percent plant based plate. The hives return only when I stray too far from this plan.

I’m now convinced many of the chronic diseases we deal with come from our SAD (Standard American Diet) way of eating. If I know I can’t fuel my car on anything but what it was designed for, gas and oil, why do I think I can continue to pack my body full of non-nutrient, processed, chemically laden, hormone and antibiotic induced meat, packaged food and obsessive sugars, stuff it doesn’t recognize as food or fuel, without eventually suffering a breakdown.

We are well fed, but not well nourished. We are stuffed, but not full of life giving, cell restoring nutrients. Yep, it’s certainly easier to microwave a hot dog and grab a cupcake then cut up veggies. It’s more fun to suck down a couple Diet Cokes then drink a glass of water with a lemon wedge floating in it.

But I am living proof that a lifetime of hot dogs, soda and their nutrient deficient relatives don’t make a body happy in the long term. I’m also living proof that reversing this trend keeps every cell inside me smiling and thankful. As my eating choices improve, I can almost hear them screaming to each other in pure exhilaration, “Hallelujah! She’s finally figuring it out!!”

Eating well is mostly common sense and I find many people instinctively know what they should and shouldn’t be swallowing. Following a healthy lifestyle is difficult, when tantalizing junk food constantly surrounds and entices us, but as my always wise husband says, “Everything that is worth it will probably be hard.”

Since my body ultimately belongs to God, I believe He wants my temple, the place where He resides, to be full of health and vitality more than I do. He says I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:13-16). He says this body He made for me is a miracle. I need to be a good manager of this miracle, which includes what I put in my mouth.

Healing can come in ways we don’t expect and good health starts with me. It begins in my grocery cart, in my kitchen, on my plate, with my fork and with grace and strength for every new day.

God and I will do this.

Together.

Genesis 1: 29-30 “ Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.”

“Let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food” ~ Hippocrates
”The doctor of the future will give no medication, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, diet and in the cause and prevention of disease.” ~ Thomas A Edison

“Sickness is the vengeance of nature for the violation of her laws.” ~ Charles Simmons

Lessons From A Hurricane Summer

The year 2004 was what I call Florida’s Hurricane Summer. Four hurricanes plagued us in a span of about six weeks.Hurricane Charlie damage 8-04 042

Exactly ten years ago today, Hurricane Charley, the storm that initiated the chaos, ripped through Central Florida. We were living in Kissimmee at the time in an older neighborhood with large lot lines. Our unique property, tucked away in a corner, consisted of two acres, a ranch style three bedroom, two bath main house with a pool and a detached, cozy one bedroom, one bath guest/in-law house out back, several sheds and a separate screen room where our hot tub lived.Hurricane Charlie damage 8-04 014

The property backed up to a conservation area and was surrounded by lush jungle on all sides; thick Florida flora of wild palm trees, palmetto, gigantic oaks and hanging moss. Some people thought it scary and worried about what lived in those woods. Not me. I thought it was beautiful, until Charley. We moved to Florida in 2001 and had never been through a hurricane before, but as I looked out at all those trees, I began to wonder what they could crush if they started falling.

The weather predictors vacillated for days over the path Charley might take, but when we finally knew the storm was coming for us, our family gathered in a tight circle and prayed for protection. Jon disappeared into his room and taped a paint stick perpendicular onto a yard stick forming a cross. He came back out and leaned it against the patio doors, his way of demonstrating God’s watchful eye over us. He then went back in his room and refused to come out. I found him lying stiff as a board on his bed wearing a bicycle helmet, a jacket, and a pair of boots, clutching a flashlight.

We’d had a new roof put on the main house a few months prior and fortunately never lost one shingle, unlike many of our neighbors, but the contractor forgot to nail down the three brand new skylights he installed and they blew off as Charley came barreling through. Rain was pouring into both bathrooms and the breakfast nook and it seemed as if the wind would lift the roof right off the walls.

I ran to the storage closet and found some old plastic shower curtains and a large piece of clear vinyl, while Mike went out in the garage to retrieve his staple gun and an eight foot ladder. Wind was battering the garage door so hard he thought it would blow in. He quickly climbed over potted plants and outdoor furniture we had brought in from outside, to get to his tool chest. As hurricane rookies, we never thought about keeping the tool chest where it could easily be reached.

Our son David, who was fourteen at the time, climbed up into those wide open ceiling holes in the middle of the storm to staple the plastic down. The pool solar panels had come loose and were flopping back and forth on the roof above his head. I held the ladder and prayed like a crazy woman for the panels to not slam through the roof opening and hit my son in the head, while the wind and rain roared around us.Hurricane Charlie damage 8-04 017

By the time the storm passed it was dark outside and the power was down. We decided to wait until morning to go outside and access the damage. Neighbors went door to door with flashlights making sure everyone was alright.  We didn’t sleep much that night or the nights that followed

It was a crazy, difficult time for many here in Central Florida. Our electricity was out for two weeks in the middle of Florida’s hottest summer month.Guest house access blocked & smashed shed

But I learned to be grateful for things we Americans take for granted everyday:

Water that comes from our faucets for bathing, cooking, cleaning, drinking. Without electric, our well pump was off and we had no running water in either house. I discovered how basic water is to human existence and realized I could live without many of the things we consider essential. I never want to be without water again. Every morning when I get in the shower and warm water runs over my sleepy body, I thank God for running water.

Air conditioning in a summer climate that reaches into the mid to high nineties with humidity levels to match. The sheets felt wet when we lay down on them at night. The spices in the cupboard clumped into one large blob in their containers. We never sweat so much in all our born days. We all smelled bad, looked bad and were hot and miserable. I thank God every summer for AC.

Garbage collectors became the most important people in the world. When all the food in the fridge spoils and there’s no trash collector to come haul it away, it’s not pleasant or pretty. Every week when I hear the trash truck stop at the end of our driveway I am grateful for those who do this vital work.

Uninterrupted family time. Without TV, computers, phones or modern distractions we spent time playing table games by candle light, reading, talking and working together. David found Mike’s old guitar in a closet and a hurricane catapulted our son’s love affair with music into overdrive. He now plays, writes and arranges his own songs (listen at daveconnis.com).

Safety of family and friends. Trees went down all around us, but the only structure crushed under a falling tree was one shed. It took months of cutting and clearing to rid our property of broken and fallen trees but my family, friends and neighbors were safe. No one was hurt. I am thankful everyday for the health and safety of those I love.David's tree removal service

Looking back on it ten years later, Hurricane Charley is like the opening line in Charles Dickens’ famous novel, A Tale of Two Cities.

“It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.”

I hope to never go through a storm like that again but here’s what I know, storms of all kind come and go. No one likes them, but we learn our greatest lessons in the middle of them. If we hang on through the blustering wind and pelting rain, pray and trust God we come out on the other side..

Humbler

Wiser

More thankful

And a little more storm proof than we were before.

Nahum 1:7 (ESV) The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him.

Matthew 8:23-27 (ESV) And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm.

2 Corinthians 4:17 (ESV) For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison

 

 

Hold or Fold? My Special Education, Lesson #2

A few years ago I realized that I was obsessing over Jon’s obsessions. decision

Take his room for example. At first glance it looks like a yard sale or maybe a cleaner version of a landfill. I’ve noticed a pattern to his clutter; he puts the same items back on the floor in the same piles and in the same place. You can read about that here.

Any time we go out, he first fills a bag (or bags) with little items: strings, sticks, old papers, napkins and small toys. Eventually, there are so many bags in the car I can’t find the back seat.

I prefer my car looking clean and spacious instead of  like a Sanford and Son road show. But I’ve decided that Jon feels better when his stuff is around him. So I let it slide, for a while. When I can’t stand it anymore, I carry everything back into the landfill – his room. Then we start all over again.

 When he showers, he lines all his supplies up very methodically, things he needs for bathing and things he doesn’t and you better not touch any of it.

Eating is a repeat. Food is placed strategically around him and after all the fussing he can wait up to an hour before taking a bite, while he draws or writes on napkins.

Some of his actions seem illogical and I don’t pretend to understand.  I’ve had to learn to overlook and accept much of his behavior for what it is. If I allowed his fixations to constantly frustrate and aggravate me, I’d be twitching in a corner by now.

Time has proved that Jon’s not going to change, so I have to. There’s no point or value in my locking horns with his obsessiveness. It only escalates, adding stress, misery and tension to an already unconventional situation.

Face it, some of the things we hang on to, whether they are opinions, beliefs, material goods, expectations of others or ourselves are not useful and in the long run don’t matter much, if at all. “Don’t sweat the small stuff” really applies here.

It’s the trivial, the little pebbles in the shoe, that can hinder. How much better is it to move around the petty obstacles and keep going?

Not everything is urgent and some things aren’t even important. Others are non-negotiable and so critical I need the grip and tenacity of a pit bull to hold them.

When I’m tired, frustrated or discouraged it’s easy to let slip those things that should remain.

Knowing when to hold on and when to let go requires wisdom, discernment, consistency and prayer.

It also requires change. I must be willing to adjust in areas where I’m too rigid or passive, or at least examine these and determine their validity.

Is this a battle I need to win? Is this an issue I should stand firm on? Sometimes the answer is yes. Very often it is no.

In all areas of life, prioritizing and simplifying, helps me live effectively and peacefully with myself and others.

And in doing so I discover, as time goes by that people, circumstances and inconvenience irritate me less. I’m certain I have my son to thank for some of that.

Philippians 4:6-7 “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”

Revelation 3:2 “Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God.”