A Process for Patience

a-process-for-patience

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is-His good, pleasing and perfect will.”-Romans 12:2

I miss having little ones in the house during this time of the year.  I remember when I had a six and a three-year-old who loved to watch the Christmas specials, go to the mall and make their wish list, and drive around to look at the Christmas lights.  We would attend Christmas Eve service at church and then go to Mimi’s house to open up her presents and gorge ourselves full of savory southern cooking.

I also remember feeling panicked, rushed, impatient, and frustrated.  I tried to be Super Mom and pull off every little Christmas detail, attend school activities, and work full-time as a corporate billing manager.  I wish I would have slowed down and enjoyed the time when the children were small because it definitely flashed by quickly.

This week my two grand-daughters and all three of my children are coming for some early Christmas fun.  My daughter and grandchildren live eight hours away so I want to cherish this time with them.  During my quiet time with God, I was reminded to embrace the fruit of the Spirit.  In Galatians 5:22-23, Paul writes about the traits of God, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”  These are all wonderful attributes which should be practiced daily.   The one which glares me in the face and stirs up my love/hate relationship with is patience.

I can look back at my past and see unnecessary frustration due to a lack of patience with my children, husband, employees, and strangers.  I was constantly rushing someone to operate at my speed and get it done without extending any empathy or grace.  Not a good look for someone who wants to reflect the fruits of the Spirit.  I have been practicing some exercises in patience and will be using the tools with my family this week.

Serve others- Make sure everyone is physically and emotionally comfortable.  Listen to their words and understand their needs.  Give someone the needed time to speak their thoughts and requests.

Take turns-When there is a large gathering, some structure is needed in order for everyone to be heard and recognized.  Take the necessary time for all parties to be understood.

Enjoy the wait-If large groups are dining out, there is definitely going to be a wait.  Be prepared with activities for little ones and use the time to talk and catch up.  Introduce yourself to a stranger and invite them into the conversation.

Be a buffer- If a situation becomes heated, step in and redirect.  Sometimes siblings can continue their fighting from early days (even as adults) and need to be reminded to set good examples for little ones!

I think patience is sometimes learned for some people, like me, through experiences as we grow older and wiser.  I have learned many lessons through trial and error in situations which have challenged me in the self-control arena.  So, what is the benefit of being patient?  For me, it is not forging ahead on MY will but waiting for the revealing of GOD’s will.   I keep pressing forward and relying on God to show me ways of improving my fruits of the Spirit.

The Ultimate Match Maker

 

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“Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.  Be still before the lord and wait patiently for him;” Psalm 37:5-7

I was sitting at my desk watching the clock tick closer to noon.  My stomach was grumbling and my heart was pounding out of my chest.  I was about to go on a lunch date and meet the man I had been exchanging e-mails with for the past month.  I was a 37-year-old widow, with three children, and had not been on a date in twenty years.  How come I felt as giddy as a teenage girl on my first date?  I had given everything to God and prayed if it was His will for me to be with another man, He would have to bring him to me.  In my mind, there was no way I could run a house, raise three kids, attend church,  grief group, and try to find time to date.  Well…It is all in God’s perfect timing and how this beautiful story was about to unfold.

It was the summer of 2003 and a big question on my family and friends’ minds were when was I going to start dating again?  It had been over two years since my husband Scott suddenly died and frankly I thought he was the only one for me.  To appease my family and friends I attended a couple of single events at my church and can I say, AWKWARD?  I was testing the waters but obviously, some of the people at the mixers were seasoned pros.  I had to make small talk, answer a million questions, smile until my face hurt, and was relieved when the evening was finally over.  A couple of weeks later my sister in law asked if I would be open to filling out an on-line questionnaire and put myself out on a Christian dating website.  We spent three hours laughing and answering hundreds of questions of what was I looking for in a man.  We finally finished and she asked if I was I ready to submit all my responses.  I was not sure I was ready for the next step so I told her to sit on it and let me think about it.

Shortly thereafter, another friend convinced me I needed to get away for a few days (I had not left my kids alone since Scott had died and they were now thirteen, ten, and three).  So I made arrangements for my parents to watch the kids and embarked on a cruise to the Bahamas with my friend.  This was the latest in a chain of events involving dating and meeting others, so perhaps God was trying to get my attention!

On the first night of the cruise, we visited the dining room and the two of us had been seated at a table with six women from New Orleans, LA.  As we made introductions, we found out this group was on the cruise to celebrate Robin, who had finished up her treatments for breast cancer, and had been given a clean bill of health.  We explained we were semi-celebrating my first time out since the death of my husband in 2001.  There were a lot of questions asked and answered the first night and Robin and I became instant friends.

The next couple of days on the cruise we hung out with the girls from New Orleans.  Robin was very brave in her questions and wanted to know if I was ready to date again.  I laughed and told her I was not sure, and I had given it to God because up to this point nothing felt normal about the dating process.  She proceeded to tell me she had a brother who lived in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area (guess where I lived!) who was forty, single, and she was always looking for someone for him to meet.  I politely laughed it off and did not expect anything to develop from the exchange.

On the last night after dinner, Robin was tired and retired early to her room and the rest of us moved to the lounge.  For the next couple of hours, Robin’s friends proceeded to tell me about her brother Randy, and what all he had done for Robin while she endured her breast cancer treatment.  He lived 8 hours from Robin and every three weeks, he would leave work on a Thursday night, drive eight long hours to her house and spend all weekend entertaining his three-year-old nephew.  This helped Robin recuperate from her chemo treatments and allowed her husband to continue to work.  I sat there and listened to the group go on and on about Randy’s love for his sister and I actually thought there was something intriguing about this guy.  The next morning Robin asked me for my contact information, which I gave her, and we hugged and said our goodbyes.

A couple of weeks after the cruise I checked my e-mails, and there were a couple of addresses I did not recognize.  I opened the first one and it was from Robin.  She had sent an e-mail to me and Randy making the introductions.  The next e-mail was from Randy, thanking his sister for initiating the meeting and saying he loved her and kindly butt out.  I finally agreed to a lunch date with Randy in late November.  We had such a pleasant time we continued to meet for more dates.  Six months later, my sister in law reminded me of the questionnaire which was not submitted to the online dating service.  I started reading over the questions and answers when all of the sudden I gasped.  According to my answers, Randy was an almost a perfect match for me!  I looked up and said thank you, Lord, for it was by His hand this encounter happened.

In June 2005, Randy and I were married at our church in Grapevine, Texas and have been together for almost eleven years.  There have been many events over the last several years, one of which is we lost Robin to breast cancer in 2009.  I think back to the first meeting with Randy and am in awe of how my life has moved over the years.  What a God thing in how He orchestrated a meeting of a Texas gal with a Louisiana girl who introduced me to a bonus husband.

God is the ultimate matchmaker and His plan is perfectly timed.