“You will never regret being kind.” -UnknownYou Will Never Regret Kindness
I have taken an excruciatingly long sabbatical from my blog. Not that I didn’t want to write or have topics to write about, that was not the case at all. I have more drafts stored than posts at this point.
Many felt ‘good’ to me, poignant, meaningful, insightful and hopefully inspiring. As I would get ready to publish, I would hear a resounding ‘NOT YET’ from the Lord. Really?? I thought that was a good one!
Can you relate to a time when the Lord told you to be silent for an interminable amount of time? It is never easy to be quiet but it is so necessary to wait on the Lord’s timing for every word.
A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver. – Prov. 25:11
Dear readers, with this in mind, I am enlisting your help as I feel confident this is the time to use my platform to speak. I started this blog many years ago with the purpose of sharing my joy in whatever journeys the Lord takes me on. Sometimes that is my own journey and sometimes I am a participant due to situations I have no control over. My blog is a transparent story of my life.
I am asking you to partner with me in prayer for a fellow blogger. Some of you know and follow this blogger. They have shared some of their own struggles as well. Many posts have included me and my family. Will you please join me in praying for a peace that passes all understanding? For the Lord to bind up all their wounds, whatever they are? When we choose to live in the past and not forgive real or imagined events, there is no real room for God to do greater things in our lives. I believe the best is yet to come, no matter what has happened to me!
I do count it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever I face trials of many kinds, because I know that the testing of my faith produces perseverance. I will let perseverance finish its work so that I may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. – James 1:2-4
So please, my dear brothers and sisters in Christ, please join me in praying for this one whose mind is not yet healed. God is able! Thank you for your prayers.
Despite living on my own and having almost no physical contact for many weeks during the stay-at-home orders for my state, I found that I was doing remarkably well. I have no explanation for that other than I had already adjusted to a quiet, peaceful life. I still missed my routine and my people however.
Last week without warning, an utter dread came over me. It was like an ominous black cloud that wouldn’t lift despite sunny skies. In typical fashion for me, I had a chat with myself. ‘Self, what is your problem? You are not comfortable in your own skin.’ After prayer and meditation it didn’t take much to figure out what my issue was: dread of Mother’s Day.
I have made so many strides over the years since becoming unwittingly single and yet I had not reconciled myself to the events of that horrific Mother’s Day that is now many years out. In my mind I recount the events as though they were current events…the girlfriend he chose to spend the day with openly, mocking me, the obliteration of any acknowledgment of honoring me. Why do I do this every year? Why do I give any power to it?
As an additional and very important note, our daughter was born on Mother’s Day thirty-three years ago. This year she would be celebrating it on the actual day. For me, Mother’s Day is extra special on those years.
Due to the changes in life from Covid-19 we were doing things differently this year like everyone. Thankfully our state has opened up and we were going to be able to visit. My son had been so kind to send flowers and we enjoyed such a pleasant call, the best we can do for now. My daughter arrived with her family soon after for some of our traditions from the past as well as a few new ones. Gift shopping had been a challenge but these new times found us so very grateful just to spend time together.
As we caught up later about the day, I asked how the end of her day had gone when we went our separate ways. She shared that she asked her family to go inside the house without her so that she could have a moment to grieve. Her dad has chosen to break off all relationship with her and both of our grandchildren, forsaking them for a stepchild he acquired in his second marriage. No one begrudges him a relationship with the child but it is painful to understand how a father – your Daddy – puts your relationship with him to death. She did the emotionally healthy thing by acknowledging her loss, dealing with it and moving forward. I am so very proud of her.
The day made me so thankful that she and I, like you, share a heavenly Father who will never leave us nor forsake us. There is nothing you or I can ever do to make God turn away from us, leave us, or stop loving us. God’s love never fails. I don’t know who needs to hear this but I suspect many of you do. If you have been the recipient of complete rejection here on earth, it is not the end of your story. There is a heavenly Father who longs to have a relationship with you for forever. He is cheering you on. He believes in you. He is for you, He is not against you. He is faithful. The only question today is, what will you do with that? If you would like to know more and why I have this hope, let’s have a conversation.
As I write this, there are four days left in this year and in this decade. I cannot speak for anyone else but I never imagined at the beginning of this decade I would be here.
I was in my mid-40’s with a child in high school and my eldest had just barely given me the title of Nana, still a treasured title. I was happily enjoying life as a wife, mom and friend to several close couples. My older brother Allen and my dad had passed away but we had eventually moved forward by creating new memories.
And then life came to a screeching halt, written in other posts during the 12 month span when my other brother Phil died, three months later my husband of 30 years said he wanted a divorce that I never saw coming, ending with the death of my mother.
I took a very long break from nearly everything. Some friendships went on pause as I tried to inhale. I moved…a lot. Friends were beyond generous to provide respite as I allowed the Lord to have 100% of my time. No internet or cable, I had to drive twenty minutes to make a phone call with clear reception many days. I took up hobbies that resembled the days of Laura Ingalls Wilder…reading, teaching myself how to play the ukulele, and learning how to paint with watercolors.
I met God in a new, unfiltered way with no one and nothing between us unless I allowed it. It was a sacred time.
I knew one day my sabbatical was over and it was time to return to giving back. The last commandment from Jesus was to go and make disciples. It was time to pick up my mat and move again.
I am now looking back at the past decade and I am thankful. I am thankful the Lord has been a constant in my life since my teen years and has been patient beyond words with me. I am thankful for the time I did have with my parents and siblings. I am extremely grateful He blessed me with a twin sister who is still by my side. I am beyond thankful for my wonderful children and grandchildren who bring me immeasurable joy. I am thankful for the opportunity to have experienced marriage, something not granted to everyone, and that I can look back and be proud of the committed wife I was.
I am thankful for the many life lessons I have learned from this decade. Because of these I can walk strong into the next decade, full-on for God. I am ready and expectant for a great decade ahead because I have been able to end this decade well.
How about you? Is there anything you can finish so that your next decade begins strong with the Lord?
Thank you to everyone for your patience while I took time from writing in my blog. I pray for God’s blessings to pour out on you as you follow wholeheartedly after Him!
I am blessed to own a home with more than one bathroom. That means that I have bathrooms with toilets that need parts replacing, sometimes the entire toilet gone when the cost is weighed out. In exploring the variety of toilets, I discovered a convenient feature that exists.
Full disclosure here, I have no idea what brand of toilet I own. Per the fine folks at Google, I can describe what has caused such excitement by giving the example of what Kohler offers. Innovative features include technology that prevents lids from slamming and seats that remove easily for cleaning. The Cachet Quiet-Close toilet seat with Quick-Release functionality is engineered to close with the slightest touch, reducing unwanted noise often associated with lid slamming.
My bathrooms are next to each other, but one has a loud lid that slams onto the seat at the slightest tip. The second toilet takes a bit more of a push, a pause as you watch it gently glide down as it seems to whisper ‘I will be finished in a few moments’, said with a bit of a British accent perhaps.
The Quiet-Close toilet seat drove me crazy at first. HURRY UP ALREADY!
I have written sparingly in this blog for a good reason. There has been a great deal of external noise in my life. Lies, false accusations, verbal assaults and conflict galore on behalf of someone who thrives to talk a little, chat a little, peep peep peep as they say. Attempts to drive wedges between my family and me, friends, anywhere they can cause conflict. The interesting thing is, the noisier they got the quieter I got.
The ‘Aha’ moment came one day as I walked away from my Quiet-Close toilet. Patience, be still. The Apostle James said it well: Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. – James 1:19-20
I am thankful for the example of the toilet seat that reminds me to slow down. Slow down my thoughts, slow down my words, slow down my actions that would lead to anger. Internal anger or strife between me and others. The opposite reaction is at the beginning of the verse, just like the second toilet lid. Let me be quick: quick to hear, quick to believe others, quick to love in the way that Jesus loves me. What does that look like? That question is for another blog, in fact the entire New Testament. For now, here is a great link for a few concise examples.
One can accomplish many good, ye great things with their life. If I have not lived a life that produces the righteousness of God, I have accomplished nothing of eternal value.
What are some steps you take to slow yourself down when tempted to act or speak hastily out of anger?
But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive. – Gen. 50:20
When you are in the throes of a battle, what is your attitude? Get me out of here? When will this end? This isn’t fair! I can relate, can you? I learned a great deal recently from following the life of Joseph. Talk about someone who got a raw deal out of life. I’m not convinced Joseph would say that if he were sitting here chatting it up with me. Let’s look at a few things he faced in his trials as well to see what we can learn from him.
- The battle may not be fair. Ouch! That hurts to hear but it is still true. God never promises in His Word that life is fair. There is nothing fair about your own siblings throwing you away in a cistern and hoping you will die because they are jealous of you. There is nothing fair about false accusations, imprisonments, lies, betrayal by those closest to you, poverty or near starvation. Joseph faced virtually every type of adversity possible – physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, social and financial. Can you relate to anything that Joseph dealt with?
- Acknowledge the reality of what you are facing. Be truthful with yourself about what you are up against because when you are facing an impossible situation you don’t do yourself any favors by pulling out the Jesus Juke talk. Ask the Lord through prayer that you would be aware, discerning and full of wisdom. Is this a one-time situation or are you in for the long haul? If you are struggling with an individual or party, what role do you play in it?
- Know the weakness of your foe. They aren’t God. Who allowed this to happen? Who is sovereign and could have stopped it? God. Who was therefore not in charge? Your aggressor. They may appear to be in charge presently but rest assured they are not. Don’t give anyone more power than they possess. God alone is omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient.
- Have integrity in the secret places. If you are reading this you interact on social media in some fashion. The temptation is so great today to pretend to be so much greater than we truly are. The Super Christian. Let’s be honest about Joseph’s situation. He had to be lonely and Potiphar’s wife surely was at least a little tempting to him when she approached him as a single man in his 30’s. He is being approached by a sexually aggressive woman who will not take no for an answer. Why is he able to stand up to the temptation? He had great respect for the marriage covenant and he was most concerned with his covenant with God. The result? ‘The Lord was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did.’ – Gen. 29:33b.
- Prepare by power. Work hard because it is the right thing to do without expectation of instant results. Joseph believed fully that God would bless him because of his dreams, yet the fruition did not fully come for a very long time. Allow God to use you wherever you are knowing that it is never in vain. Most importantly, prepare powerfully in your prayer life.
- Prepare in rest. When you have done all you know how to do, stand. Standing rather than moving seems so counter-intuitive, yet Scripture speaks often of standing as a point of strength. A fellow blogger came up with a great acronym for standing:
- S – STOP SITTING (AND FEELING SORRY FOR YOURSELF) AND START BY GETTING BACK ON YOUR FEET.
- T – TAKE YOUR TIME. WHEN YOU STAND, YOU ARE NOT MOVING, AND THAT IS OKAY. BE FIRM, BUT STILL.
- A – ACCEPT GOD’S HELP. ALLOW HIM TO ARM YOU WITH HIS TRUTH, HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS, HIS FAITH, HIS WORD, AND HIS SPIRIT.
- N – NOTICE YOUR SURROUNDINGS. WHO/WHAT IS AROUND YOU? WILL THEY PROPEL YOU FORWARD OR HOLD YOU BACK?
- D – DEFEND YOUR GROUND. BOUNDARIES ARE A GOOD THING. HEALTHY AND STRONG PEOPLE KNOW HOW TO KEEP THE BAD OUT AND LET IN THE GOOD.
- Be a gracious winner. So the battle is over and you have finally seen the victory. Outstanding! Now remember who fought the battle for you. Are you now going to take the credit back from the Lord, or will you give Him glory for the great things He has done? Not to us, Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness. – Psalm 115:1
The greatest battle you will ever fight will not be against flesh and blood but in your heart and mind. Take every thought captive so that when God gives you the victory in war, you don’t lose it in your own personal battle against yourself.
I recently posted about having an open heart and asked readers what that phrase meant to them. You had some wonderful responses! First15 is a ministry with an app and a website that recently asked that very question.
Below is the link to their daily 15- minute devotional on having an open heart:
What are your thoughts after reading this?
For those who are interested in learning more about First15, here is the description of their ministry:
A growing relationship with God comes when you experience Him daily. Christians know the importance of a daily quiet time consisting of Bible reading and prayer, yet many struggle with finding a devotional resource that is both easy to understand and relatable to daily life. We write new devotionals each day consisting of Scripture, reflection, prayer, musical worship, and a call to action. Thousands of readers each month use our content to discover God in a deeper way, and it’s changed their lives.
For twenty-six years I have celebrated today as one of my life’s greatest miracles. Infertility issues that were misdiagnosed and mistreated until a friend’s education on endometriosis led to a new doctor and an accurate diagnosis. It was widespread but I was hopeful surgery would bring the end goal of having another child.
Life rarely goes as planned and another year with more medication did not produce the pregnancy I longed for. My daughter had gone from asking for a sister to saying a brother would even be great. Out of the mouth of a 4-year old, right? I sat down one night to explain that sometimes when we pray God says yes. Sometimes the answer is not yet. Sometimes the answer is no and the doctor said we were at that point. I would find out soon that my miracle baby was forming in my womb as I spoke those words to his sister.
God’s grace and mercy … Such rich reconciliation!
It was wonderful to learn that today is the National Reconciliation Day as I celebrate his birthday today. We had such a wonderful conversation recently as I feebly tried to share how much I appreciate his grace extended towards me as I have fumbled and stumbled through the passages of motherhood.
Reconciliation begins with God but there is also reconciliation between family, between friends.
I am reminded of a friend’s wisdom to love with an open heart. Reflect on that brief sentence for a moment. What does it mean to you to love with an open heart and how might it change some of your relationships today?
Below are some thoughts on definitive steps that can help in the process of forgiveness and reconciliation:
Below are some thoughts on National Reconciliation Day for you to consider:
I would love to hear your thoughts. What has been successful for you in reconciling a relationship?
Happy birthday, Avril. I thank God for you and your sister every day. ❤
Have you experienced a time of deep betrayal by someone close to you? A time when you let someone into your life, trusting them with the most intimate details? Out of the dark, like a thief, trust is broken. How do you respond? Can you ever trust again?
Have you experienced the sorrow of a Last Supper betrayal in your life?
It is sometimes suggested that Judas Iscariot was not a friend of Jesus, based on his decision to betray Christ. Yet Scripture says he was. Judas was called by Jesus to be one of the twelve disciples, and was present with him up to His final hours of life.
We too sometimes allow people into our lives that will sell us out at our hour of great intimacy. You’ve no doubt witnessed a breakup over dinner at a restaurant. Unless you are sadistic, it is painful to watch. Maybe you’ve been on the receiving end. The Last Supper truly began the greatest breakup ever.
That isn’t the rest of the story for those of us who place our hope in Christ. I have failed Him, and I will fail Him. The beautiful promise of the Cross is the Rest of the Story.
If you would like to know more about this Savior I write about, I would love to share more. My story is weaved through years of this blog but one thing stays true: He is the Way, the Truth and the Life.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. – John 3:16
I am in the middle of some remodeling at my house, and it is a bit like watching a picture of what is going on in my life. Walls coming down, walls going up. Rooms gutted and rebuilt, hiding the horrors of what has been described as the ugliest bathroom ever by my remodeling company. Hey, everyone is a winner at something!
The decision on what to gut in the house was made many years ago when the house was initially purchased at a great price and determined to be a good investment. The decision on how to gut it…well, that has been a process. I need to be wise with my pennies so every decision is evaluated for its best long-term value for the house.
In the same way, I am remodeling my own life as well. I have put out a blueprint for where I want to be in the next five years. I have created goals and have lists within those goals so they aren’t simply lofty ideas. Some of those goals include what I want my relationships to look like, both personal and professional. It sounds so easy, doesn’t it?
During one step of the remodeling, they were tearing down a bathroom wall to replace a tub. I couldn’t help but notice the plumbing had completely disappeared and framing had gone up in its place. Guys…I still need a shower over the new tub going in. It turns out that some major errors were made in a previous remodeling of this bathroom. The plumbing for the shower was never attached to a stud but rather stayed in place with heavy amounts of spray-in foam insulation . Pulling that out took an entire day when it should have been about 30 minutes and it destroyed any opportunity to reuse the materials. I look at that empty wall and it is a reminder that not everything is salvageable and sometimes you can’t see what is really going on behind a wall. Now I know why the shower was leaking.
Some leaks originate at the source, some near the end. Every leak needs to be repaired or replaced, whether in a house or in a relationship. Wisdom is knowing the best decision for the long haul.
I am thankful for the new walls, new paint, and new plumbing going in. I am far more thankful for God’s grace that has opened doors for new friendships, new ministry opportunities, and continual remodeling of my heart to look more like the heart of Christ. The remodeling in my house has a time frame of a few months. The remodeling in my heart? That will last until my last breath. I am a work in progress and thankful for God’s grace.
By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches. – Proverbs 24:3-4
*Thank you to Lysa TerKeurst for being a role model in the remodeling process of life.
If someone could have written a song to me last year, the year before, this would be it. Battles? I had many.
I didn’t write much – not because I didn’t have a lot to say but Proverbs 17:27 says,
A truly wise person uses few words; a person with understanding is even-tempered.
What could I say? I was grieving multiple deaths of immediate family members. My marriage of 30+ years was… well, what was it? I’m still not sure. I thought there was a lot of love but there was a cavernous room full of deception. I am not here to discuss that, nor will I ever. I was engulfed by sorrow on every side.
Would I make it?
I had a choice to make. Would I believe that God was who He said He was, or would I flee in my times of trouble and go my own way? Was I truly convinced He was my all in all when I had nothing? Zero in the checking account, no money coming in, all the bills were mine and no one to fall back on. Is God I Am?
When your back is against the wall and you only have Him or yourself as an option, which do you choose? Choose the author and finisher of life, the ONE who is able to do exceedingly, abundantly above ALL that you could ever ask or imagine. He longs to help, if you will only ask Him.
A year ago, emotionally I was in the ICU and didn’t see a date of being released. I am so thankful for those who prayed for me, praying me out of the hospital, out of my emotional rehab, and I am happy to report that the Lord truly is my Healer. I am better spiritually, mentally, and in every area than I have been in years.
Whatever you are struggling with today, don’t give in to the temptations of your enemy. Nothing, absolutely nothing lasts forever on this side of eternity. Hold onto God. It gets better. I promise.
As the days approached towards Christmas, my mood got darker and darker. One evening I was walking down the hall reflecting on years earlier. Was it reminiscing, or was I being controlled by my memories from the past? I saw my mother in the kitchen, baking and preparing a huge holiday dinner for our family. My dad, bellowing with his huge laugh that could be heard throughout the house. My grandmothers catching hugs and kisses. As I rounded the hallway, I became overcome with emotion. I miss it. I miss them. I miss so much…
I did what I always do. I gave myself a stern talking to. “Knock it off! Get over your pity party. There are plenty of people with a lot more grief at the holiday season than you.” I was missing my older brother, who had passed away just days before Christmas several years ago. Another family member very ill. “No, hold yourself together.” Instead of the commands for a fire – stop, drop, and roll – I created the mantra – stop, drop, and pray – when I’m in this place. I prayed.
Christmas approached with little glimmer of hope in sight. A custody battle in the family, and a former family member who refused to relinquish custody of said children on the required day. Suddenly I was several states away on Christmas Eve without access to anyone it seemed, except my husband who was making phone calls. I couldn’t reach my attorney or the necessary family members. A friend texted me to check on my status. I was brutally honest.
I want my mom. I want my dad. I want my family back. I want someone to take care of me. I am tired of taking care of everyone.
Out of my mouth and into God’s hands. He gently showed me a crisp, cold Christmas Eve that I was not the only person who probably felt alone that night. Mary would have wanted her own mother when she gave birth to Jesus. Instead, she was far from home with only her husband and some noisy animals. And God. God was there. Mary was not abandoned at all. Neither was I.
If you are feeling alone or abandoned, take heart dear reader. You are never alone. God is right beside you. Call on Him for help. He is waiting. Will you start out 2016 with God leading the way?
My husband and I recently retraced the steps of a vacation from 18 years ago, made to Washington, DC just days after my diagnosis of MS. It was an emotional visit flooded with tender memories. One thing we hoped to do was to tour the White House. We contacted our congressman months in advance, to no avail. We weren’t on the ‘It’ list. We would have to use our active imaginations, Google photos, and friends’ stories to enjoy the experience vicariously.
Little did I know I was about to get a firsthand account of someone’s personal tour to the White House, including a personal meeting with the First Lady at the end of the tour! I was impressed.
This precious person was accompanying her spouse on a business trip and found herself without anything to do one day during the trip. She received that unexpected call: Would you like to see the White House? Of course her answer was yes. She gave general details of what a magnificent and stately mansion it is, so ornate, everything I had imagined. It was an exhaustive tour, not just covering ten rooms or so as I had imagined ours would be.
The consummation came when her tour guide asked if she would like to meet Mrs. Obama. She was overcome with excitement, as she had never met a First Lady. Mrs. Obama was just as gracious and lovely as she had always heard. It was a brief meeting but certainly one she will remember the rest of her life.
When my mother shared this story yesterday of her recent trip, she commented that not everyone believed her. In fact, some people said she was making it up. I assured her I did not think she was making it up at all.
Alzheimer’s can bring some lovely, joyful things it you live in the grey areas instead of black and white. My mom genuinely believes she experienced this. I shared her joy and exuberance. My mind can’t begin to fill in details like that. Don’t misunderstand me, I understand the medical reason behind the situation. If you have a loved one with dementia, embrace the joy when you find it.
And if you see Mrs. Obama, please tell her my mom says hello.
Music is a powerful tool, isn’t it? It brings back memories of that first kiss, where you first met that special someone. Maybe you have a rebel cry song that helped you through a bad breakup. People plan the perfect song for their first dance at their wedding reception. Music can be the key that unlocks memories tucked away in a box from decades ago, just waiting to be plucked out and played.
The residents where my mother currently resides deal with various stages of dementia, but one lady in particular will make statements such as, ‘The lunch was very good. The lunch was very good. The lunch was very good.’ She repeats it…and repeats it…and repeats it. Perhaps ten, twenty, or more times in a row. She is close to being nonverbal but when she does speak, Ruby (*) can get stuck on a single sentence for a very long time, like a record player that continually skips at one point in the song.
Elvis came to visit and shake it all up recently for some entertainment with the residents, also known as music therapy. We soon wondered if the staff and family knew what they were in for or not. There is another resident who is well over 90, very weak, but she was ready to do the jailhouse rock with Elvis! Martha(*) was up on her feet, moving and dancing away while nurses were on every side, ready to catch her if she should fall. She had the time of her life.
Elvis approached Ruby with a feather boa and wrapped it around her neck, wooing her as he crooned, ‘You were always on my mind’. Apparently Elvis was always on Ruby’s mind. Her mind temporarily breaks free from its locks and she is transported back to her mid-twenties. She sings, she sways, she is weak at the knees. Elvis Presley is singing directly to her…and she is singing right back to him! The verbal and memory processing prison has been temporarily broken, the chains are gone, she has been unleashed!!
For us, the most beautiful thing was to hear my mother still telling us many days later what a thrill she had seeing Elvis perform. She didn’t remember any family being there to visit, but she remembered Elvis. She remembered that Martha stood to her feet, dancing away. She remembered Ruby about to faint at the mere sight of Elvis. She remembered the emotions, the happy experience.
Thank you, Elvis. When Alzheimer’s seems an impossible code to break, you show us you still have it.
**All names are disguised to protect the privacy of the residents.
When I was diagnosed with MS, I was training for my first marathon. I had a friend Liz who had set me up with a solid training schedule, broken down for the next five months. She even had my nutrition list set up for me. When I questioned my ability to complete the task, I would stop by their house for a dose of affirmation from her husband, a 3-time Ironman at the time. He has probably circled the globe by now!
I was that crazy girl who wasn’t very good at any sports but I loved trying them all. I would go to our elementary school and bounce tennis balls against the wall until I had every type of stroke down. I ran in track and came in at a solid 4th place on several occasions. My strengths were in other areas but I LOVE sports. I still do. Eventually I found sports that I excelled so my energy went to more useful gain.
So how did I keep from losing my desired identity as an athlete when I suddenly found I could not lift a leg off the ground or pick up a 2-lb weight? It isn’t easy. I still struggle with it. I had to train my mind the same way I had trained my body. I rehearse Bible verses over and over. More than that, it has to be true to me. I could say it all day long but it’s irrelevant if I don’t believe God’s Word and apply it.
Don Miller wrote a blog this week that addresses the question, ‘Do you only matter because of what you do?‘. He brings out some good points on what we base our self-identity in and the harm that leads to.
What about you? Where do you get your worth from and how do you protect it from?
I can’t remember a time when I didn’t love basketball. It is, as they say, in my blood. My memories of my dad standing, yelling, waving, stomping his feet, uttering words I would get my mouth washed out with soap for using… all for the love of Indiana basketball. Like my dad, all of us attended IU. I witnessed Bobby Knight’s antics and Steve Alford’s record-setting free throws. And rivalries… we knew every team we were for or against.
I am all for cheering my team to the finish line whether they win or lose but I get a sick feeling in my stomach when the intensity turns to personal attacks. One famous rivalry was between Geno Auriemma and Pat Summit. I came across the article below and thought Coach Auriemma had some great comments on forgiveness, reflection, and some ways he has changed since Coach Summit retired due to Alzheimer’s.
Do you have some things you need to address with someone? What are you willing to do while there is still time?
What are some specific steps you have taken that were effective in restoring damaged relationships?
Do you share your conflict with anyone who will listen or do you try to contain the damage?
How do you make peace with your past?
Over the last year I have journeyed with a dear friend as she watched her mother’s health fail. Initially there was hope that the situation was a temporary setback. A few months revealed that was not the case. This particular friend is an extremely busy person who gives back to her employer, family, friends, and community. I made myself available, and when she had free time we labored together as we watched each of our mothers decline. Things spelled downhill rapidly and her mother passed away recently. The funeral was out-of-state so I sent flowers and checked on her each day. Imagine my surprise when she drove by my home once then twice without even stopping or offering more than a slight wave after she returned home. Had I done something? Said something? She sent a few brief texts saying she was not up to talking yet.
A true friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need. – Prov. 17:17
It’s perfectly fine for my friend to have this response. I respected how she handled her emotions. I deeply value my friends who are honest with me, even when it isn’t what I want to hear. Sometimes we put an unattainable and unnecessary goal on others to respond to their grief in the same we would and in the same time frame. It is impossible to know what is going on in another person’s thoughts. More than that, are you prepared to hear it if they pour out the details to you?
You use steel to sharpen steel, and one friend sharpens another. – Prov. 27:17
I have another friend who regularly apologizes for saying she is brutally honest. In reality she is one of my most trusted friends. Do you value the friend who tells you when you have food sticking between your two front teeth. The friend who doesn’t deliberately post the worst photo of you on Facebook simply because it is the best picture of her or him? The friend who tells you when you need to work on your attitude or outlook? My closest friends protect my trusted information. They challenge me consider my options, use the wisdom of others, to pray more, be a kinder person to both the lovable and the not so lovable, to give more generously. To be less like myself and more like Jesus. I’m a work in progress with a long way to go. I need friends who look me in the face and speak the truth in loving words.
Your Face Mirrors Your Heart
Become wise by walking with the wise; hang out with fools and watch your life fall to pieces. – Prov. 13:20
Most of all I cherish the friends who love me enough to listen when I want to talk, pray when I’m silent, and share their burdens with me also.
What are some of the most important qualities in your friendships?
I always want to appreciate the generosity and kindness of others. In a perfect world, I write a thank-you note promptly for every person who has reached out to me. In a perfect world, I have beautiful and inspiring words that express these emotions. Sometimes that calls for gushing emotions that overflow with flowery words. Other occasions recall details of the changes in me or others who benefit from someone’s generous time and gifts. Some times I come up so short of expressing any appropriate acknowledgement. Today is one of those days.
For a little background, I took a course in college. As that occurred approximately 100 years ago, I can no longer recall the name of the course. It was something on American history in the 60’s? (I’m making this up. It is the closest detail I remember.) Just before the Thanksgiving break, we were given the assignment to interview a veteran. I smelled an easy A. Nice!
I wrote out my questions for the interview, timed out the appropriate setting, and began the interview with my dad. The fallacy of my theory about an easy A was to assume he wanted to be interviewed. He did not. I believe his words went something like this: ‘If I had wanted to discuss my time in World War II or the Korean War, don’t you think I would have mentioned it before now?’ Ouch!
My gentle giant of a father did not have mince words when necessary.
I suspect I went whimpering away after the abrupt notification that the interview ended off before it ever started. What had I done wrong? My mom told me I had no idea what the answers might be, and he didn’t get joy from some of the more painful memories. Not every experience feels better by recounting it over and over. I saw this comment on a friend’s Facebook page this week, which seems to sum up the experience.
Are ya going to listen to past trauma or today’s truth? I choose truth.
I muttered words of thanks over the years to my dad. I wrote papers later that showed his heroic character without the need for graphic detail.
I will always name my dad as my hero. He is the example.
My dad was a freshman in college at Indiana University when he was drafted for World War II. He finished that first year of college, served his country faithfully, and resumed his studies in Business at Indiana University.
He continued on with life. He wandered into a hat shop one day to purchase a gift for his mother. He encountered two of the most lovely women – my mother and my grandmother. I think you know what happened next. Chapel bells were ringing. They didn’t ring for very long because he was home from the Korean War just long enough to say his marriage vows. Within days he was back to serving his country after being drafted a second time.
I heard these men and women referred to as The Greatest Generation as years passed. Truer words were never spoken.
My dad went on to have a successful career as an entrepreneur. He and my mother owned a number of successful businesses. They spent many long nights working to ensure their employees would have another paycheck during a recession in the 1980’s.
He loved family life. He was an only child who had six children of his own. Many people never knew about two of his children, Ann and Alice. They were the first set of twins in our family. My parents had no idea they were expecting twins until they were born. Neither child survived. I was vaguely aware of this as a young child from the whisperings of a great-aunt who would explain the significance decorating graves on Memorial Day each year.
My dad finally realized he needed to put his health first when he approached age 60. Soon he was walking several miles every day. All those years of ice cream and fried chicken had beat him to the punch. He suffered a massive stroke at age 62. The remaining eighteen years of his life were spent in a wheelchair, permanently paralyzed, until he passed away. To this day I can hear his laughter. I don’t hear his voice complaining. He would tell you he had a great life. I saw trauma after trauma in the unfolding of his life. He saw joy and victory. His final words to me were to thank me. Thank me? He wanted me to know how highly he thought of me as his daughter.
In the final days of his life, he was thinking of everyone but himself.
These are just a few of the reasons we call them The Greatest Generation. Tom Brokaw wrote a book titled as such. One reviewer noted that, ‘In this book, you will meet people whose everyday lives reveal how a generation persevered through war, and were trained by it, and then went on to create interesting and useful lives and the America we have today.’
To all the heroes, thank you. How do I adequately sum up my appreciation? I don’t know. I stumble over the words until I tumble into a torrent of inadequate musings and exaltation. Perhaps less is more. When we meet any servicemen or veterans, we sum it up with these words:
Thank you for your service.
Hope changes everything. Hope precipitates the route to joy. Hope brings internal strength when external circumstances look daunting, perhaps impossible. My prayer for you today is to keep faith in your situation. If hope is nonexistent, pursue it diligently.
“”I’ve always talked to players about perception and reality. I don’t worry about perception. There may be some of that, that people want to attach to a good name, but the reality is that some good things can happen.” – Tony Dungy
What is on your list of impossibilities today? What has worn you to such fatigue that you can’t crawl out of that mental or physical manhole
“Always direct your thoughts to those truths that will give you confidence, hope, joy, love, thanksgiving, and turn away your mind from those that inspire you with fear, sadness, depression” – Bertrand Wilbertforce
Do yourself a favor today, perhaps an eternal favor. Take a chance to believe again. Faith is the cause. Joy is the result.
“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.” – Helen Keller
Let me know what you have renewed hope in today. Encouragement feeds encouragement in others. Someone else needs to hear about your story of hope. Your journey to joy.