Maralyn's Updates

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Two Pots

In his book Come Thirsty Max Lucado paints an unforgettable word picture of worry:

“It works like this. Let’s say a stress stirrer comes your way. The doctor decides you need an operation. She detects a lump and thinks it best that you have it removed. So there you are, walking out of her office. You’ve just been handed this cup of anxiety. What are you going to do with it? You can place it in one of two pots.

You can dump your bad news in the vat of worry and pull out the spoon. Turn on the fire. Stew on it. Stir it. Mope for a while. Brood for a time. Won’t be long before you’ll have a pot of pessimism…

How about a different idea? The pot of prayer. Before the door of the doctor’s office closes, give the problem to God. ‘I receive your lordship. Nothing comes to me that hasn’t passed through you.’ In addition stir in a healthy helping of gratitude…you remember the tax refund, the timely counsel, or the sudden open seat on the overbooked flight. A glimpse into the past generates strength for the future.”

I believe this is an accurate picture of the message in Philippians 4:6-7. “Don’t be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

Max Lucado concludes that our roles are clear: Our job is prayer and gratitude. God’s job is peace and protection.

Sometimes I stir the prayer pot, but this past week I chose to walk over to the worry pot and stir for a couple of days. My swallowing is harder, eating is harder, taking pills is harder, and sleeping is harder because my lip muscles won’t keep my mouth tightly closed anymore. So the air that comes in with every breath makes my tongue, lips, cheeks, and throat so dry I have to swish water about every hour. Not very restful!

So all of those “what-if’s” began zooming around in my mind, and soon I was drooping around the worry pot. But it didn’t take long to realize that worry drags me down. Everything felt hopeless!

On the other hand, I notice that prayer and gratitude lift me up because as I reflect on the ways God has helped me in the past, I remember that he can also take care of the present and the future.

God has intervened many times in my life…
--When I was five years old I was exposed to Spinal Meningitis. So when I began to have the symptoms of the disease, my parents called in their friends to pray for me. As they were praying, my fever broke and I started feeling better—immediately. All of the symptoms disappeared and I was completely healed.

--In the raising of our two boys there were two accidents in which the boys could have been seriously injured, but they escaped with only a scratch and a black eye.

--When Jim was in seminary I needed a job, and God provided a first grade teaching job in a spectacular way.

--The raising of our budget for missions carried several spectacular stories of God’s provision.

--Often I needed wisdom in dealing with the issues of students, and many times God gave me supernatural insight.

--In relation to my ALS, one of my biggest gushes of thankfulness comes when I think about the fact that I still have strong fingers. So, I can type on my ACD (speaking machine), I can instant message with former students on Facebook, I can write e-mails, and I can still write this blog!

And even in my current situation, God has already provided help:

--Grace sent me a book of tasty puree recipes, Karen cooked them up for me, and this new system is working well. Eating feels manageable again.

--Ruth helped me locate a chin strap to use at night to keep my mouth closed. I’ll be trying that for the first time this week.

--The medication that we thought couldn’t be crushed, could be. So I’m still taking my essential pills…just in a different form. Those pills go down easily in lemon pudding (smile).

Now, I want to tell you the sequence of steps in developing this blog, because through this process I’ve seen a mini version of how God provides help:

--First, almost two weeks ago, I was with my friend “F” because she was driving me to do my errands.

--As a matter of conversation she told me about her Bible study group, and their latest topic—worry. She shared about a worry in her own life and how God had showed her that hanging onto control was really lack of trust. I was in a peaceful place myself, so I received this as simply friend to friend conversation.

--Five days later when my issues surfaced and I began to worry, I remembered what F had said.

--I dug into scripture and was comforted by Philippians 4:6-7. I imagined two pots of stuff that I could stir, and I needed to choose not to stir the worrisome stuff, but give the control to God as F had.

--I e-mailed F and told her about my latest crisis, and asked for the scriptures her group had studied. I told her this would be my next blog topic.

--She answered with Philippians 4:6-7 (yeah!), and sent me the Lucado story, which was so similar to the image in my brain. (just amazing!)

--I just shook my head. Wow! What a confirmation! God obviously needed to teach me this, and he must have also wanted me to say it to you. (I love how God works!)

So do you ever worry? Of course you do. You’re human! (smile)

So here’s what I’m learning: When we’re tempted to worry, we need to ask ourselves: “Can I do anything about this situation?” If the answer is “Yes,” then we should take the necessary action. If the answer is “No,” then we must walk away from the worry pot and throw the thing into the prayer pot. And as we pray, we need to flashback, remembering God’s loving care in our lives.

This whole process leads to peace…God’s peace, and nothing is sweeter than that!

Now! When I forget and wander back over to the worry pot, would you please remind me to get back over to the prayer pot? Thank you! (smile)

To my American friends: Happy Thanksgiving--around your prayer pot! (smile)


P.S. Sunday morning our son Paul arrived with Elliana, who is almost 3. She is adorable! She’s always been below the charts for weight and height, so she is tiny, but powerful. She loves the story of “Snow White” so I picked up this little dress for her to play in while she was here. She likes pretending to be a princess. Her mommy and little sister will be here Wednesday. We’ll have Thanksgiving Thursday and Friday with Jim’s extended family, then we’ll have two days with just our two boys and their families—a little pre-Christmas gathering.

And that’s another way I’m blessed--with a wonderful family!


Blogger jeanne @ Inspiring Ideas said...

Hey - we're doing a Bible study down here of Phil., too! Loving God with all your mind by Elizabeth George!

We wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving surrounded by your family! So good to have Paul there!

10:13 AM  
Blogger Teddybear said...

Maralyn thank you for sharing with us about the "worry Pot", we need to be reminded every now and then not to worry.

Your princess is adorable. Have a Blessed Thanksgiving surrounded by the love of family. Love Deb.

1:56 PM  
Blogger Daniel McNaughton said...

Your words were so encouraging to me today. Thanks for sharing. I hope you guys have a great Thanksgiving!


2:26 PM  
Blogger Dr. James O. Lowell said...

Wow Maralyn, it's so cool the way God gives you words of encouragement at just the right time and in the right ways. Your blog reminds me of the scripture: Cast all your cares upon Him for He careth for you and HE DOES! So we do not need to worry! Have a Happy, Blessed, Awesome Thanksgiving with your family.
Love & prayers! J & J

12:00 PM  
Blogger Tammy Monson Apple Valley, MN said...

Hi-We don't know one another but my sister told me to take a look at your. I know what it is like to be dealt unexpected news as we lost our only son in a motorcycle accident on August 12, 2008. As I was driving to work on Thanksgiving morning and so lonely for Kent I just said "Lord I'm going to be thankful for all that I had with Kent, not all that I'll miss."

Never in my life have I experienced others prayer going forward for me like now...I know I'm walking in a very special place of grace and I sense you are to. I'll be praying for you. Much love to you as you move through this unchartered territory.

1:01 PM  
Blogger Sue Hartmann said...

Dear Maralyn,
Thank you so much for having this blog. I so much needed this message today. I have been hanging around the worry pot lately. This is so unlike me but here I am jumping between the two pots. Thank you for helping me get my focus back and giving my worries to Jesus.

11:32 PM  
Blogger My Happy DOMAIN said...

....FANTASTIC NEWS-BLOG, Maralyn...very much like my FIRST FORMAT when I started 3 or 4 years ago....Great Pictutres....My Blogsite is:

9:51 PM  

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