October 6th, 2017

Faith Filled Friday

Frienemies!

Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art…. It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.”
C.S. Lewis, The Four Love

Thanks for joining us for Coffee Hour @ Chicklit Power and Faith Filled Friday with Trench Classes United. Grab your coffee and your Strand of Faith and come on in. I hope what is shared today will go with you this weekend and follow you into any kind of conflict you find yourself in with a friend whom you may now consider an enemy, aka, a frienemy! J

Have you ever watched children in conflict? There is actually something to be learned by observing their struggle with innocence and their juggling of their little cups of pride that spill out onto the one they are conflicted with or by. There is this sort of bittersweet thing about them as they wiggle through the conflict.

I got to watch how littles handle conflict at one of our grandson’s birthday parties a while back. Of course, everyone wanted to be around him and it was pretty interesting to watch him trying to juggle all the attention, especially since he was the birthday boy and everyone wanted to be his number one friend. Well, there was this one friend there who was insistent upon him paying more attention to her. It was kind of funny, in a peculiar sort of way and in other ways, not so funny. As I watched them, I marveled at the truth that we as adults can be so like children, except – and this is a big one – they still have a blanket of innocence around them and they get over conflict soooo much quicker!

Watching this very assertive little girl and how little B handled her attention was like witnessing the acting out of Colossians 3:12a-13 which tells us “to put on tender mercies, kindness humility, meekness, longsuffering, bearing with one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a complaint against the other, even as Christ forgave you, so you must do.”

Let me try and paint this picture verbally: As the party progressed, this girl, who by the way little B says “She’s a girl and she’s a friend, but she’s not my girlfriend” J – rather aggressively demanded her way.   At first he ignored her; that didn’t work. Then he tried appeasing her; that worked for a New York minute. And then as these things didn’t accomplish her desired goal, the conflict escalated and they began to sort of toss their point of view across to the other in hopes that the other would catch it. But then, a burst of innocence would happen and one of them would stop it with a hug, or a simple “I’m sorry,” and the conflict was over. All was forgiven…until the next time she, or he, didn’t get their way, or the other felt slighted or ignored and not special and then the tug of war began all over again.

His other grandma, whom my heart loves, and I were talking about it and she called them “frien-emies” and that stuck with me; you can’t be an enemy unless you’ve been a friend first! Think about it; we aren’t nearly as hurt or offended by a stranger’s behavior as we are by the behavior of one whom we love or care deeply for.

Why can’t we be more like children, and get through the conflict with a simple “I’m sorry”? Why does it seem to require so much more as we get older?

Maybe it’s time to consider the value that that frien-emy brings to our life…and if there’s more conflict than caring, maybe it’s time to evaluate the amount of space they take up in our hearts without paying rent…

True transformation can only happen with another and that’s the value that a friend brings!

Love,

Evinda

 

October 5th, 2017

Tam’s Trench Truth

Hello everyone and welcome back to our Trench Truth Thursday.

 

For three weeks now, I have been sick. I just cannot seem to kick this. I have never spent so much on cough syrup, cough drops. Chronic coughing all the time till the point you feel like you could faint is so hard to do hour after hour, day after day and week after week. I started feeling like I had a little energy a few days ago and my cough got just a little better but then it bounced back with a vengeance. Trying to work like this has been incredibly difficult when you drive all night long.

The other night, I had to pull over because of a coughing spell wherein I coughed steadily for several minutes straight, I jumped out of my car with major anxiety and I took to prayer. To be honest, I don’t know if that’s what you could call it. I asked God why He wasn’t giving me some relief; that I was really starting to get upset. I hurt everywhere and my ribs feel like I went rounds with Mike Tyson. What adds to my frustration is the lack of help from the VA Hospital It’s as if no one is listening there. Anyways, let me get back to my conversation with God.

 

Please help me; bring me just a little relief, I cried out.

 

And just like that, my thoughts returned to something I wrote last year about how every breath is special in life. I still feel that way. But when breathing actually hurts I must say it challenges one’s own words and belief about each and every one of those breaths. I caught myself thinking maybe it’s ok to not have to love each and every breath. My mindset has always been about trying to challenge myself to appreciate life no matter what is happening, because I know how special it is.

 

But maybe it’s ok to just not have to be responsible for every breath. Maybe that’s God’s lesson is in this. The hardest thing to try and grasp is why He heals some and some don’t get their healing here in this life. Maybe I should ask Him for strength to get this instead of trying so hard to understand why I’m going through it.

 

Coffee Hour Friend and Trencher, can I ask you to pray for me? Pray that I would be given the strength to endure all that life is sending my way..

 

Much love everyone.

John Tam

October 4th, 2017

Wednesday’s Word

Welcome to Coffee Hour @ Chicklit Power and Wednesday’s Word with Trench Classes United. I just love Wednesdays and our time together where we can sit in a scripture for a few minutes with real life scenarios that invite us to go deeper. Grab your coffee and your Strand of Faith, because my prayer is you will tie a few knots in it today, making it even more difficult to come apart and unraveled in times of trouble.

I was so proud of my mother-in-law for flexing her brave…overcoming her fear of flying after a horrible experience 54 years prior which kept her off of any airplane…until September 22nd, 2017!

brave

Adjective: Ready to face and endure danger or pain; showing courage.

Noun: People who are ready to face and endure danger or pain.

Verb: Endure or face (unpleasant conditions or behavior) without showing fear

I sat in the emergency waiting room waiting…my mind and body completely in shock. Only two at a time were allowed to go and see her and I was having an incredibly hard time waiting for my turn. Since I’m the daughter-in-law, I had a bit of a wait.

I ran through the events that brought us to this moment, over and over and over, like a Ferris wheel that wouldn’t stop, couldn’t stop because of the centrifugal force pulling it around and around and around. And so my thoughts ran: How could a family reunion go so awry in the blink of an eye, with one choice, one action that would affect all of us for as long as we lived, every time we got together in the days to come?  Why did it have to be mom, one of the strongest women I know but physically weakened by age? Why was this happening? I cried out to God!

To help me in the waiting, I opened up my word game app on my phone and as if on auto pilot, I completed the puzzle quickly but for one word…and then in the blink of an eye, the letters danced into their squares, just four of them, but the impact they had as they formed the word is one I’ll never forget: Brave! “You’re going to need to be brave,” I heard Him whisper.

I wanted to yell at God but instead kept my thoughts just between Him and me, not wanting everyone in the emergency room to hear them, nor think I was losing my mind. He knew I was having an incredibly difficult time accepting any fatal outcome as a result of this tragic accident that broke 7 of my mother-in-law’s ribs. I just couldn’t wrap my head around it; that He would allow it to go this way. This was one of those faith-shakers wherein I knew in my soul that the more I struggled to understand, the more my faith would be shaken.

So instead, I waited, asking Him to help me be brave, for my husband, my father-in-law, and for all the family members who, on a dime, could turn and scream at me about my God allowing such a tragedy. It was one of the most difficult times I’ve ever, ever endured in my life.

Hours turned into days and I wish I could say I was on my knees, in His word, or doing some other spiritual thing that made me a better person, but I’d be lying if I said any of that. Instead, by the end of the first day, I had exchanged wrestling for trusting, and oddly enough, she seemed to have turned a corner…until we came back to visit her the second day, after face-timing her and seeing her sweet face with a smile that danced in her eyes. She was literally betting my brother-in-law that the Seattle Seahawks would lose their football game. J

We were so, so encouraged as we headed to the hospital the evening of the second day but who we saw at that time was someone else, or so it seemed. She had become really out of it, but we thought it was just the pain meds. We hung out for several hours, and while she was conscious, she was in and out. The team of doctors assured us they were trying to find a balance of pain medication that would keep her more alert so she’d be able to do her breathing exercises. And just before midnight, I kissed her good-night and reminded her she needed to practice taking deep breaths and move the ball in the machine to the top so we could bring her home. “Okay, Kim,” she said.

The next morning, we wanted to stop by for our last visit before coming home, and selfishly I wanted a better visit. I had to see for myself that she was doing better than the night before. In fact, I was sure I was going to see her wide awake, ready and willing for me to help her breathe into the little machine to keep her lungs free from fluid.

What I saw when we walked in stopped me like a sudden brake in a car during an unexpected traffic jam. Her bed had been lifted quite a bit and out of her mouth was a tube hooked to several hoses attached to a machine. I looked to Dad, who looked dazed by tears and shock, and then to the nurse, questions filling my eyes but somehow staying stuck in my throat. All I could say was “What in the heck is going on?”

The nurse explained that her heart rate had begun dropping just after midnight, so they watched her closely but it wasn’t until several hours later that they realized they needed to place her on life support to help her heart beat and they were running tests to try and determine what had caused the decreased heart rate.

We called the rest of the family and told them they needed to get to the hospital ASAP, and we cancelled our flight. There was no way we were going anywhere. We were in for a very long day…we needed to sit and wait…and be brave, to endure or face this most unpleasant condition without showing fear…which I didn’t quite master, but I clung to faith, choosing to pray for her instead of praying for understanding.

Coffee Hour Friend, have you ever endured such a time where you needed to be brave…trusting that His promises wouldn’t fail you; that He would never leave you or forsake you even in the toughest of life’s circumstances? The only way we could be brave in times of tragedy is by and through our faith; of this I’m certain because I’m living it now. This verse has proven itself over and over:

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

Join me next Wednesday for the conclusion to this tragedy that required me to cling to my faith that I could be brave, strong and courageous.

Evinda

October 3rd, 2017

Tuesday’s Trench Truth

Welcome to Coffee Hour @ Chicklit Power and Tuesday’s Trench Truth with Trench Classes United. I love sharing these truths we discover in the trenches with other Transformers. Grab your coffee and come on in for a moment of truth.

Did you know there are 7 major things that drive our fear cars? These 7 things are not so obvious, though, and often not even acknowledged. Let me share them with you as well as a corresponding truth and/or possible explanation.

  1. We fear being different: this fear feeds our need to belong, to be accepted.
  2. We fear not being good enough: Again, this fear is driven by our need to belong, to be accepted and/or loved. (In other words, that message of not being good enough started somewhere.)
  3. We fear commitment: This fear could come from an experience of rejection, painful breakups, of hurting and being hurt or even witnessing these things in the life or lives of close family/friends. This fear can also be a counterfeit mask for the true desire of intimacy and security which comes from a long-term, trust-based relationship.
  4. We fear change and/or discomfort: Predictability is a form of control, to this fear is driven by a need to “feel” in control of your world, your home, schedule, et cetera. But where does it come from?
  5. We fear facing inner truths and inadequacies: This fear may be rooted in a childhood where it wasn’t okay to be or to express what was inside of you.
  6. We fear not being loved in return: This fear is rooted in a lack of self-confidence, self-worth and hinders intimacy. This may be as a result of feeling little to no comfort and/or nurturing as a child from parent(s).

Now, go ahead and take a moment and assess your fears. It’s just you and God. When we are honest with ourselves, we are more inclined to be honest with Him.

Use the 0-10 scale to confirm or deny whether you have any of these fears: 0 means you never fear/feel that which is spoken about and 10 says more often than not you have that fear or feelings of fear.

Information is the beginning of freedom. You can’t change or correct that which you don’t know needs changed or corrected!

Thoughtfully,

Evinda

 

October 2nd, 2017

Monday’s Mantra

My Mother instructed me to always make eye contact with my teachers so they would think I was interested in what they were saying …

 

Welcome to Coffee Hour at Chicklit Power and Megan’s Monday Mantra with Trench Classes United.

 

My Mother was a teacher, so undoubtedly she knew what it took to make a teacher feel valued. Making eye contact is an important component of active listening, but active listening is not the art of making others think you are interested in what they have to say. Active listening is the ability to be authentically interested in what someone is communicating to you.

 

My husband and I attended a family wedding this weekend. I thought this would be a good opportunity to practice active listening skills. I should have known better. My novice listening skills and I failed miserably. I was constantly distracted. Being a good listener takes a lot of commitment and focus! The only thing I accomplished was recognizing I was not being a very good listener.

 

Jesus listened. He was fully present with everyone He encountered. He gave people His full attention and permitted them to tell their story. He first listened – and then ministered to their needs.

 

The Christ-centered, Christian care Stephen Ministry teaches its caregivers the importance of listening before responding. People going through sickness, grief, and hard times need someone to share it with. Being heard helps them feel valued and understood.

 

God works through our listening to accomplish healing. God works through our listening to inspire others to do what they know they must do.

 

James 1:19 (NKJV) “So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.”

 

Be swift to listen … it just may be your greatest gift.

 

Your comments are always most welcome.

 

Lovingly in Christ,

Megan

September 29th, 2017

Faith Filled Friday

Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. Colossians 4:6

Welcome to Coffee Hour @ Chicklit Power and our Faith-Filled Friday with Trench Classes United. Today’s blog is written by myself and Jenn Woosley, a former Transformer of ours who has truly learned the value of transformation. I love what she shares about words, and their power…which are influenced by our attitude, aka, our heart! Grab your coffee and your Strand of Faith and join us for another Faith-Filled Friday!

What we say and how we say it is so important. It’s imperative to remember that others hear based on their life experiences. It’s the reason we get triggered by something that’s said. I was reminded of this in two instances yesterday

There are a lot of people out there who’ve been seriously hurt by the words, tone and actions of other human beings. If you find yourself upset by words, take a step back and understand why before responding. Realize that not every comment requires a response from you.

If a person is upset by your words, take a step back and understand where they may be coming from, why they are upset. And if you don’t know, ask. Often, your words triggered something in them about them, and their life experiences, not something you did or said wrong. If their anger or frustration is that of an abuser, then you have to step away because fighting back only causes more bad behavior.

There are two key ingredients we need to flavor our words with: Empathy and compassion. Both have gone missing in our society. All the anger, the hate, the backlash going on around us is largely caused by what I’ve written about above. We all want “my” say…

Words matter. How they are phrased matters. Sometimes it may be best to say nothing at all.

Think about it.

Jenn,

 

September 28th, 2017

Thursday’s Trench Truth

Welcome to Coffee Hour @ Chicklit Power and Tam’s Trench Truth with Trench Classes United. I must say, today’s blog is a bit raw…but maybe, just maybe it will touch someone out there who also suffers with chronic health issues. That’s our prayer! Come on in for some heart to heart from John Tam.

I’ve been sick for over two weeks now! These long-term sicknesses can be so hard. Coughing for weeks and weeks brings so much pain to my ribs and abs. Tonight it all kind of came to a head as I had maybe the longest coughing fit of my life. I started feeling as if I was going to pass out. But the pain seemed to keep me in it somehow.

 

My coughing literally pulled me out of my bed and had me holding the foot board. When I eventually stopped I ended up sitting on the floor. I leaned my head back against the bed and started thinking. I leaned my head back, exhausted, and the thought came to mind just how complex life can be. Isn’t it weird to think about how pain can even have its place?

 

Sure it is incredibly hard to live with. For years I have dealt with panic attacks as the pain overwhelms me and leaves me feeling trapped like I am in someone else’s body.

 

It’s not as if I think God wants us physically hurting or for that matter, emotionally hurting but I can’t help but wonder if even pain can be used by Him. To be honest, for so many years I can see how it has literally destroyed parts of my life and if I am honest maybe even the best parts of who I am. I have literally screamed at God and asked him why he can’t help relieve me more. But maybe He is relieving me from a pain that was far worse? I keep asking and telling God that I am already humble enough. I even tell friends and family to please work on their health so that they don’t end up like me. I have not been able to find my way out but I must say tonight that it was nice that my pain kept me from falling over and probably bustin’ my head open.

 

Weird to think I thanked God for that tonight…

 

Yesterday found me begging the VA for a walker. That is so hard for me to ask for that as it was hard just getting on a cane. But my goal with the walker is to alleviate the pain a bit so maybe I can walk further. The further I can walk, the better it will be for my health. I know the “No Pain No Gain” plays into all of this. But I just have to take it in bits and pieces and manage my way through it somehow. I could use your prayers everyone, and so can the many people around the world who live with pain.

 

Much love everyone,

~John

September 27th, 2017

Wednesday’s Word

Standing Steadfast is Moving Forward

1st Corinthians 15:58: Therefore my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.

Welcome to Coffee Hour @ Chicklit Power and to Wednesday’s Word with Trench Classes United. I just love taking scripture and applying it to our everyday lives! Grab your coffee and your Strand of Faith, and let’s go tie some knots! Oh, and if you’re new to Coffee Hour, all the Strand of Faith is, is a red strand of yarn, and every time you read scripture that resonates in your heart and life, you are to tie a knot in it. After a while, you hold it up and thinking of the strand of yarn as your faith, how likely is that faith to unravel in tough times? Keep tying those knots! J

Are you a believer in coincidence or when something happens that speaks to you, or works out near perfectly, do you sense Him working everything that concerns you on your behalf? Well, I don’t have enough fingers and toes to count the number of times just the right scripture has come to my attention at just the right time. This week’s is no different.

Lately I’ve been realizing that for quite some time now, our organization has been analogous to an Israelite wandering in the desert. In other words, we keep going around the mountain and not climbing up it! In fact, there are times when I feel as though I’m standing still, and not sure how to move which makes me want to run! Have you ever felt like that? Like you want to throw in the towel because you feel as though you’re not going anywhere? You just want to feel like you’re moving forward, whether in a relationship, in our finances, His calling for our life…whatever the situation, right?

I saw this particular verse on a meme’ for a memorial service for a friend of a friend…and I had to re-read it a couple of times. My heart sort of skipped a beat, or so it felt, as I read it for the third time. “…be steadfast, immovable…”

It hit me like a surge of electricity: to be immovable in our faith is moving forward!

We may not feel the motion, but inch by inch, in whatever the situation, to remain steadfast and immovable in our faith, trusting Him for our next move is a motion in the right direction: closer to Him…forward!

So if you’re feeling like you’re in a rut, sort of stuck, not going anywhere, I pray that this verse will rekindle the fire in you that you would know you are progressing forward in the right direction.

Thoughtfully,

Evinda

September 26th, 2017

Tuesday’s Trench Truth

Thanks for stopping by for Coffee Hour @ Chicklit Power and Tuesday’s Trench Truth with Trench Classes United. Today is the first day of sharing what we are actually learning in the trenches at this time, so grab your coffee or your favorite beverage and come on in for a trench truth.

Have you ever hung out with someone for an hour or two and gotten sucked into their opinions and observations which just so happened to be about everyone else? And then when you said good-bye you felt this surge of relief and realized your ears were tired and your heart heavy?

When much of our conversation is about others, this is a sign of one of two things: either it’s a bad habit to get in the lane of others’ lives, or it’s a sign of an internal struggle to stay in our own lane, our own life! It’s called a preoccupation with others.  Let’s look at that word for a minute:

pre·oc·cu·pa·tion

“Lost in thought, extreme or excessive thought about something or someone”

In other words, Coffee Hour Friend, a preoccupation with others’ lanes of travel, aka, their lives is a distraction from our own!

We must ask ourselves, why…am I so preoccupied with them and what concerns them? Is there something in my own life I’m not willing to look at? Is there something within me that I need to have my thoughts occupy?

Learning and unlearning

Evinda

September 25th, 2017

Monday’s Mantra

 

 

Watching her enjoy the new found freedom her wheelchair offers makes my heart happy.

Watching the forecast of her future makes my heart break.

 

Welcome to Coffee Hour at Chicklit Power and Megan’s Monday Mantra with Trench Classes United.

 

My precious Kirby Girl started to show signs of canine Degenerative Myelopathy 18 months ago. It started with the dreaded sound of the intermittent dragging of her back left foot. Degenerative Myelopathy is a progressive, genetic disease of the spinal cord, similar to Lou Gehrig’s disease in humans. Its progression, over time, results in complete paralysis. The ultimate outcome of DM is death. There is no cure. The majority of dogs with DM require euthanasia long before reaching the final stages of this insidious disease. The one hidden blessing is that it is painless for the dog.

 

When I first detected the onset of the disease, I prayed and pleaded Kirby would be spared from it. But as I painfully watched the slight drag of a foot slowly and deliberately progress into complete rear end immobility, I knew escaping the consequences of this debilitating disease was not His will.

 

It is gut-wrenching to stand by and watch someone you love go through something that you cannot fix. No matter what you do, no matter how much love and quality of life you provide, you know, in the deep recesses of your heart, it will not change the eventual outcome. This feeling of helplessness can be so vastly overwhelming!

I am no stranger to this feeling and my prayers for Kirby have changed considerably as her disease forges onward. I have had to relinquish my control and remember who is really in charge!

 

I could write countless blogs on the lessons I’ve learned caring for my Kirby Girl, but I couldn’t begin to count all of the times the Lord has intervened … a fleeting moment, when a back foot is able to scratch an itchy ear … a squat, held just long enough to go potty, without falling over … or a donated wheelchair to resume walks in the park. The Lord continues to hold me up as I hold up Kirby. More significantly, He continues to fulfill my deepest heartfelt prayer, “please keep my Kirby Girl happy and comfortable and show me how to best care for her.” He has blessed Kirby and me with the resilience to face this season of our lives, resulting in an even deeper and more intense connection.

 

As I write this, I can hardly see through the swelling of my tears. I have no idea how or when her journey will come to an end, but I can see in her eyes, she has turned yet another corner in the progression of this disease. In spite of her condition, she continues to accept her circumstances unconditionally, with a bit of spunk and a few cherished licks to my cheek … most notably, she is happy and comfortable.

 

God is always with us.

He is with us when we feel Him and He’s with us when we don’t.

Focus on God’s presence.

He is near to all who call on Him.

God does answer prayer.

Your comments are always most welcome.

Lovingly in Christ,

Megan