Floating

Sometimes you have to drop out of what you usually do and take some time to think. I often do this on a daily walk, but I decided to visit a place that would require me to be quiet. I made the thirty-minute drive through hectic Saturday traffic as the entire world was heading off to harvest festivals. When the weather reaches nearly eighty degrees in October, no one wants to miss it because we could be facing a blizzard and a polar vortex by the following Monday.

“I need to get there because I’m supposed to go relax, and these crazy people and their driving are stressing me out!” I had been cut off multiple times, and someone behind me felt I wasn’t driving fast enough. It was very frantic all around me, and I wanted out.

She prayed that we would be teleported there like The Jetsons, and my lane started moving. Suddenly we were past the snarl and pulling into the parking lot.

The receptionist said it was Pumpkin Days, so people were flocking into the city in droves. I already felt the slight shift in the atmosphere with the lavender diffused air and spa music playing over my head.

“This is where you will find the towels, robes, and flip flops. The lockers are over there, and you go through that door when you are ready.”

We changed, grabbed what we needed, and went where she had pointed. I walked into a warm, massive room that housed the mineral pool. To make it even better, we were all alone.

That always amazes me when I end up on a road, in a store, or a theater with no other soul around. Many people occupy the earth, so how do I end up having a piece of space to myself?

Usually, when there is a pool involved, kids are splashing, and there is a lot of noise. This was like walking into a sanctuary. Both of us slipped into the 90-degree water quickly, and it wasn’t the usual gradual entry while my body had to adjust; I just went right in up to my chin.

When I get into the water, I usually run or do some nonrelaxing type of activity. This wasn’t like that at all, and I ended up floating suspended on pool noodles with my eyes shut. We both felt like we shouldn’t even talk because it felt different from usual, more like therapy and not like a waterpark.

The water was infused with 83 minerals that the skin absorbs. All of this is to help calm the mind and nervous system along with other disorders that a person might be facing. The draw for me was that it was to relieve nerve pain. I had jokingly told the chiropractor that someone had gotten on my last nerve as she treated me a few days prior.

As I drifted along, I started to picture the scene from the Bible where the disabled man is lying by the edge of the water. An angel would come to stir the water, and whoever got in would be healed….

One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”

“Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”

Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.”

At once, the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.
(John 5:2-10 NIV)

When he was asked if he wanted to be well, he didn’t say “yes”. He explained why it couldn’t happen. He gave an excuse to justify why he had laid there for a long time. And it had become his identity. I wonder if he even tried to get in after all that time, or was it easier to submit himself to being immobile? It seemed that he had written himself off as a lost cause.

And what does that say about the compassion of God? Even when you come up with all your reasons why you can’t do something, you are allowed to get off your “sick” bed and move on. This is a mental block most of the time, and believing that you can is the hardest part.

When the nerve pain in my face has been at its height, I tell myself that the treatments I am doing for it are working, and I try to be aware of when it feels normal. This has been very effective in making the attacks less frequent and shorter in duration. I have had to come at this with the idea that I am healed, not unwell.

It’s not easy to do when the pain is screaming, but I can when it wanes. It’s something to build off of so it doesn’t become a stronghold. I feel gratitude when nothing hurts. And when it does, I tell it that I refuse to accept it. If Jesus asked me if I wanted to be over it, I would say yes. Would you? Or do you sink yourself in the symptoms, letting them run you?

I went into the tumultuous, hot tub—what a difference between the soothing unmoving water in the pool to now submerging in a loud, hot, boiling cauldron. Yet, it has its way of bringing a different kind of peace. I heard in my mind: See? You can be in a place of chaos like this and be still. It can surround you, and you can be in it, but not of it.

I did gravitate back to the more tranquil spot where I had started and surrendered myself back into the silence.

Just as I thought I was not going to have anyone invade my world, I heard her say,

“Have you ever been here before?”

I opened my eyes, and a woman was looking at me. I noticed that my daughter had drifted off into a far corner, and it appeared she was asleep. All day she had been right next to me, but now it looked like she had been pushed away to leave me alone with this person.

“I have been to this spa before, but never to the pool,” I said.

I flipped into an upright position. I used to wonder how I was always targeted for this type of thing. I didn’t look approachable with my eyes closed, but apparently, there was a reason for this encounter. It happens all the time, so I go where it takes me.

She told me that she and another family member had given her parents a gift card, and they had refused it, so before it was going to expire, it had to be used.

“I have arthritis, neuropathy, and fibromyalgia. My spine is shot, and I might have another surgery to fuse it. I am hoping being here will help.”

“Do you take medication?”

“Yes. But it does nothing. I have had acupuncture, a chiropractor, and physical therapy, and nothing works.”

I listened while she spoke about all of her issues.

“What about food? Are you on an anti-inflammatory diet?”

“I do Keto, and that seems not to cause me more trouble.”

I always have to be careful not to say, “do you think this is all in your head?” That sounds terrible when the symptoms are real.

“Have you ever considered that what you are thinking about or what is stressing you out could be contributing to this?”

She didn’t answer me but went back to going over all of her troubles again. The problem was bigger for her than a solution, so she had fallen victim.

I began to ask God how I could help this lady. Do I hold her hand and pray? But I felt the answer was no. Do I speak a verse over her? No. Do I talk about heaven and how much God loves her? That’s not it. Do I dunk her under and baptize her? I saw a visual of that with her still talking with bubbles coming to the surface. No, Chris. What is it then?

“Tell her to get quiet and meditate.”

That’s so simple and not earth shattering. She’s really a mess and telling me every single thing that is wrong with her, and now she has launched into what is going on with her spouse. Isn’t there some electric current I can send? Like zap, she is better and starts walking on water?

No. She needs to meditate and ask what she needs to do next. Only she can do that. Not you, and this is what she needs.

I interrupted her and said,

“Do you meditate?”

I saw something come across her eyes.

“Oh. No, but I have a bunch of meditation music that I bought and never used.”

“Use it.”

“I forgot all about that.”

“It will help you so you can think clearly. You need to get quiet and let whatever your body needs to be shown to you. This doesn’t have to take over your life because we were created to heal, and your body doesn’t hate you. So don’t think that. It was designed to support you in life.”

“I’m retired, and there are so many things I want to do, and this all stops me from that.”

“Then meditate. It sounds simple and like something that wouldn’t help, but how hard is it to sit in a chair and do this every day, so you get an answer?”

“Right. That is easy.”

“But you have to do it, so you know what to do next.”

Her sister, who had gone into the women’s locker room, whipped open the door.

“What are you doing? We have to go!”

“Oh! I forgot all about you.”

Meanwhile, my daughter was unmoving in the same spot. So strange after all day of her and I being side by side, and she was sound asleep on her back.

“I better go! I didn’t know she was in a big hurry!”

“Do what I said and have your husband do it too. You will get the answers you need.”

“I will. Thank you, and I think it will help.” She seemed brighter and less weighed down.

My daughter came back the minute she left.

“What happened? I didn’t hear a thing. I fell asleep and got a bunch of new ideas for work.”

“She just needed some advice. You know the drill.”

Later, I asked my daughter if the bottom of her foot was still painful. She had stepped on a piece of glass, and the spot was tender to the point of not being able to put all her weight on it entirely. She worried that maybe she hadn’t gotten it all out.

Pressing down on the area, she said,

“It’s fine! It’s not as swollen, and it feels normal.”

What I think is that God has created every single one of us to receive assistance in a certain way. Preaching an entire fire and brimstone message to that woman was not the answer, and she probably would have left with less hope. She was attracted to me like a magnet, but her ego was getting in the way of hearing. She sought me out, and I told her exactly what she needed to hear. If she follows through, she turns on a switch to victory.

Some need encouragement; others need to change how they look at life with negative eyes or fearful thoughts. Healing can come even by spending the day without a care, immersed with God, just floating.

Playing the Game Right

Just before Christmas, I found myself in the game section of the store. I often go there because I like to see what is new with the potential of being added to my large collection. On a shelf at the end of an aisle, I found a rather intriguing box with the words Japanese Card Game written on the back. I had no sooner picked it up to examine it, when a man was at my side with a cell phone to his ear.

“You have to get that game!” he said.

“No, honey, I am talking to a person at the store. She is looking at Machi Koro. I am telling her to buy it,” he said into his phone.

He then said to me, “I am talking to my wife, but I had to come over here to tell you to buy that game. It is really fun. We love playing it.”

“Thank you,” I answered.

He disappeared as quickly as he had shown up. But, he did such a good sales job for a guy who was not even employed by the store, that a lady standing next to me decided to purchase the game as well.

I took note of the price, and with all of the holiday shopping I had completed, I hesitated. I wondered if I should buy if for myself or not. It was only about $20, but I still have moments where I wonder if I should spend my money on me. I had one part of me saying I should, and another part was escorting me to a bankruptcy hearing for purchasing something ‘not necessary’.

I decided to buy it and left the guilt at the store in the toy aisle.

Our first attempt to play was a disaster. While it sounds glamorous and worldly to play a game that is from another country, there is also the formality of the rules not being crystal clear. I kept reading this: Game play should be about 30 minutes.  We read the manual from cover to cover and that took longer than a half hour.  What’s interesting is that when people do not comprehend an idea, the reader will read louder to see if revelation will come. I have concluded that the volume of voice does not bring about understanding. After two hours of being baffled, we turned to a YouTube video to lend us a hand.

It was one of those online viewing sessions where after hours of struggle you continually say, “OH!” “Hey!” “OH!” But, you cannot get the wasted hours back of sweating it out at the table wondering if buying the game in the first place wasn’t a huge mistake.

My daughter and I decided to try again the next day to see if we could get through one round. Basically, players are at the mercy of the roll of dice and how many coins they possess. The objective is to accumulate money to buy landmarks to win. I watched as she spent herself down to her last coin while I hoarded mine and spent very little. Time and again, she beat me by completing her buildings before I had barely begun.

I noticed that she had a very carefree attitude about spending her earnings while I clung to what I had tightly refusing to buy anything on my turn. Then, she would get just the right roll, and more coins would flow into her pile which she would immediately spend.

Finally she said, ‘You have to spend your money or you are going to lose every time.”

I decided to take her advice and fight off the feelings of panic when the space in front of me held no money to spend. I actually had feelings of discomfort rise up in me as this went against everything I had ever conformed to.

I began to buy ‘the ranch’ cards which once accumulated can start to make money back for the one who purchases them. By the end of that game, I had actually beat her! It proved itself to be true whenever we played. I may not have won every time, but when I let go of what I had to spend, I ended up farther ahead than when I held on and refused to spend a dime on anything. I became a stronger competitor by trusting that I could make money by spending money.ranch

 

The next day, I was out in the store looking at water purifiers. The mental dilemma surfaced of if I should buy one or not. Suddenly, a vision of our game from the day prior filled my mind.

“Buy the ranch!” I heard her say.

I put the item into my cart and happily went on my way. I discovered that if I don’t allow myself to have things, then my life is going to be about worry and hoarding versus living the life I know God wants all of us to have.  It is a matter of trust and a deep knowing that there is a love so deep that it won’t let you fall off the edge of a cliff into despair.  We have the choice to limit ourselves or to allow good to come into our lives.

In this new year, our slogan now is: Buy the ranch!

In other words, loosen the grip, and put God’s love for you in motion by not saying no to yourself all the time.  Before you know it, you will be playing the game right.

 

machi koro