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A New Season

I love the change of seasons and after the winter we have had this past year I am even more eager for spring to arrive!  I can’t wait for the weather to get warmer,  to open my windows, and to enjoy being outside again…a breath of fresh air!  Seasons are good because they bring changes.  As I am getting ready to do some spring cleaning I’m seeing a direction change for my blogging as well.  I will still report back here to A Pilgrims Ponderings from time to time.  Unfortunately having once been diagnosed with cancer makes it part of my future.  There will always be follow-ups and tests but for now I’m putting my trust in God and not being anxious about it.  Philippians 4:6 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

I would like to invite you all to my newest blog, New Wine for New Wineskins here at WordPress and sign up to follow it.  Each “chalk chat”  or post on my chalkboard will be a devotional, many relating to current events.  Perhaps it will be something you will be able to use as a tool in sharing with a friend or co-worker, as well as hopefully strengthening and refreshing your own soul!  I hope you’ll choose to join me on my new journey.

Here’s what I wrote on my new blog about why I’m titling it New Wine for New Wineskins:  

Matthew 9:17, “Neither do people pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.”

Wineskins were made from clean animal hides and used for storing and carrying wine.  As new wine continues to ferment, the carbon dioxide produced causes the wineskin to expand.  An old wineskin would already be stretched with no room for expansion and thus be unable to hold new wine.

 I would like to think of the posts on this blog as “new wine” for the soul.  As it goes down and you meditate on God’s Word, allow it to ferment in your spirit and expand your heart and passion for God. Growth is good! As a new creation, be the new wineskin to receive His Word and allow it to revive your soul. 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”
I feel this verse sums up the point I’m at right now, bursting with a love for God’s Word and the revelation He gives and I want to share it with you my readers!  I make no apologies.
“For I am full of words, and the spirit within me compels me;
inside I am like bottled-up wine, like new wineskins ready to burst.
I must speak and find relief; I must open my lips and reply.
I will show no partiality, nor will I flatter anyone;
for if I were skilled in flattery, my Maker would soon take me away.”
Job 32:18-22

Making change

Our toy cash register

Our toy cash register

It’s been awhile since I posted in this blog.  The good news is  life is back to “normal” in the sense that I am not undergoing any treatment for cancer.   I am feeling pretty much recovered from all the side effects.  There’s still some aches and pains and sensations but at this point I honestly don’t know if it’s still from treatment or if it’s from aging, LOL.  The joke among my “cancer friends” is that we can blame most any symptom we are feeling as a lingering side effect from chemo!

Here we are at the start of 2014.  A new year.  A clean slate.  Another fresh start.  It’s probably a blessing that we don’t know ahead of time what the year may bring.  One thing I learned through this whole journey is not to worry about what may or may not happen but to take one day at a time and to enjoy life to its fullest. (Matt.6:27) Whatever comes my way, I am confident that God will give me the strength I need and will not leave me to walk  alone. (Deut. 31:6) He has brought me through some very tough days.  The road ahead may include some steep inclines, rough terrain, deep valleys, curvy and winding roads, an occasional bump in the road, and detours but my GPS (God Perspective System) will keep me focused knowing that He has my best interest in mind.  We won’t always understand the course He has us on but we can be assured of where we’ll end up ultimately.

I enjoyed the bike the most for cardio...actually steered on the courses selected!

I enjoyed the bike the most for cardio…actually steered on the courses selected!

New Year’s is a popular time to make resolutions on changes we want to make in our life as we reflect on how we did the previous year.  Some things are out of our control but many are not. We have a choice on how we’ll travel our journey through the year. Probably some of the most popular resolutions are health related…exercise, lose weight, eat healthier, get more rest, etc.  Most of these are broken within a month and then people just give up completely.  I wish more people looked internally to make changes…attitude adjustments and heart issues…than just externally.

My graduating class...12 weeks of sweat and tears.

My graduating class…12 weeks of sweat and tears.

I think the success of a resolution boils down to desire, motivation, discipline, and wisdom.  You have to really want to reach a goal bad enough in order to do something about it.  There has to be reason to reach it.  You have to have an obtainable plan to get there and it has to be plan that if followed will indeed get you there.

As a child I enjoyed playing “store.”  When I was teaching my own children, we used a play cash register and they learned how to make change.  We would set up toys and other items and put price tags on them.  They would “shop” and purchase items or be the cashier, but either way they had to learn how to count money and make change. It was a process and took time to learn.

Receiving my diploma and yellow rose at Livestrong graduation

Receiving my diploma and yellow rose at Livestrong graduation

doing the leg press

doing the leg press

Do you really want to make change in some areas?  Then do something about it.  I know for myself that last year I set a goal to run in a 5K and to start getting myself back in shape physically after going through cancer treatment.  I did run the 5 K in September and then I also signed up for the Livestrong program at the YMCA.  It is a free 12 week program for cancer survivors that encompasses cardio, strength, and flexibility.  It was a big commitment.  I had never even been in a gym before.  Not only did I learn a lot and get healthy and fit but I met a great group of people as well.  Now at the start of the new year I am ready to take on the challenge of trying to maintain my fitness.  I am still not sure whether I will join a gym or do it on my own at home but I am determined to follow through.  I feel better than I have in a long time.

Whatever my journey this year encompasses, I am determined to go through it feeling my best, not only physically but emotionally and spiritually as well. “Exercise daily in God—no spiritual flabbiness, please! Workouts in the gymnasium are useful, but a disciplined life in God is far more so, making you fit both today and forever.” (1 Tim.4:8 MSG)  Change is hard but if we stick with it and really want it, with God’s help we can achieve it.  Here’s to the best in 2014.

Seasonal changes and survival

Seasons.  After what seemed like a long winter we finally got a taste of spring.  A few  days of unseasonably warm days.  Windows were finally opened for a bit. People were outside cleaning up yards.  Motorcycles were taken out for a spin. Everyone seemed happier.  It was a tease for a few days but a welcome one.  Each season brings some kind of change.  Some “seasons” in our life are brief; others seem like they will never end.  Some are welcomed, others dreaded.  How do we handle these changes when they are big and not welcomed?

Rock ptarmigan

ptarmigan

In school this week my students had read about some animals that live in the tundra and taiga where the ground is frozen and it snows a lot. How do they handle the seasonal changes?   The arctic fox and the arctic hare are  brownish grey in summer and white in winter. Their camouflage  helps them to survive.  The ptarmigan, an arctic bird, also changes to pure white in the winter but additionally grows stiff feathers between its toes so it can walk on the frozen ground. They can also fly into snow banks and nestle in the snow to sleep and keep warm.  By doing this they don’t leave tracks for predators to follow either. The wolverine grows thick fur and has flat paws so it can walk on top of the snow.  Other animals like the arctic ground squirrel simply hibernate and sleep the long cold winter away.

Seasonal changes for animals and adaptation.  God has equipped animals with ways to adapt in order to survive.  Amazing!  More amazing is that God has done the same for us humans and we are much more important to Him.  “You, beloved, are worth so much more than a whole flock of sparrows. God knows everything about you, even the number of hairs on your head. So do not fear.” (Matthew 10:30-31 VOICE)

So what are the ways we have been equipped to handle major changes in our lives?  I was thinking how different my life become almost overnight one year ago.  For me it was a cancer diagnosis.  For you it may be a different type of health issue, or a job loss, your marriage, financial woes, or problems with your children.  How do we weather the storm or season we are in?

I believe that our survival mode must include prayer.  Prayer is simply talking to God and hearing His voice.  We need to know what direction to go, what to do, and how to do it.  We need to trust God and follow His lead.  This is our GPS to get us through it.  He has given us the scriptures, His Word, our survival manual.  “Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17 MSG)  If we release our burden to God, we are no longer carrying the weight of it.  “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 MSG)

We could choose to hibernate from our problems but they would still be there when we “woke up.”  They aren’t going to go away while we sleep or try to ignore them; in fact, they would probably get worse. We will never get to the next season until we go through the one we are currently in.  Some seasons will be better than others.  I find comfort in the fact that if God has equipped animals with ways to survive the seasonal changes and He cares more for me, then I know He has equipped me with what I will need to endure and embrace whatever changes come my way.  “We are often troubled, but not crushed; sometimes in doubt, but never in despair;  there are many enemies, but we are never without a friend; and though badly hurt at times, we are not destroyed.” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9 GNT)  We are not alone.  We will survive!  Spring is in the air!