I find it fascinating how warm 37 degrees feels during winter. The sun is out, the icicles are melting, and there are dangers of the black ice in the early morning and later evening.
Even my five-month-old puppy seems to sense the hope of Spring as grass peeked out from the snow piles along the sidewalk. Willa’s curiosity about green grass, mud, and mud puddles caused me to wonder if even our pets anticipate the change of season.
As I was driving today, I glanced upward, and my extra-large glass roof in my car was spattered with bird droppings. I caught my groan before it was fully expressed and thought, just another sign of spring.
I received a text recently that my friend and landscaper were ordering flowers for spring porch pots, and I felt my heart rise with hope.
Yes, it seems as if we are getting a taste of spring, as I saw two Robins this morning as well. It feels hopeful, and the reality quickly sobers me that March has a way of tormenting us with the taste of spring but can be slow on the delivery.
I will not yet hold my breath, but I will not give up hope. For of this, I am confident, Spring is coming, and in that, I find anticipation and delight!
I have the privilege of working with aging individuals in my work at Visiting Angels. There are attributes to aging that I admire more all the time. Life is not simple, and aging can bring a new set of realities to everyday routines.
There are a few people who have modeled aging to me for whom I have great respect. My Dad and Mom are two of those, and the third would be Uncle Bob. There are others who I admire, and there just may a blog or two more about those who age well and continue to embrace God’s call in their lives.
Uncle Bob is 87 today. Life has not always been easy, and he can tell you stories of uncertain times in his life. But even when he shares those, there is a perspective he brings to the table about lessons learned or how he grew in the process. Uncle Bob is a storyteller and always has a joke or a perspective that makes you smile or laugh out loud.
Uncle Bob is a man who is committed to learning.
He is a student of scripture and spends time with other men of faith in the Word weekly.
He is a student of technology and has learned so much about email, online classes, live streaming worship, and games on the Ipad. He has acclimated to a smartphone and can answer his phone through his hearing aids. He doesn’t say I don’t know how, he says I will learn how.
He is a student of creative work in his carving. He loves to learn new techniques in carving and will practice until he has a completed project.
Uncle Bob is a lover of people and community:
He loves his Church community, the carvers and car club community, his Buist community (where he is a faithful volunteer), his family community (where immediate and inlaws are all embraced equally! Uncle Bob is faithful in his relationships.
Uncle Bob is a man with a grateful heart. He gives God the glory for all his blessings. He has a hospitable spirit and regularly prepares a meal and sets the table for a shared meal.
I hope you have an Uncle Bob in your life. I only knew him to be alongside Aunt Anita. Now that it has been almost six years since she passed away, I have grown in my deep love and appreciation for him in a new way. When he lost his bride, after caring for her so faithfully through her cancer journey, he could have hunkered down and lost zest for living, but Uncle Bob is committed to living life fully in action and attitudes, until his last breath.
I have bolded the words that represent some of who he is and who I hope to be. We don’t have to wait till 87 to be like Uncle Bob, but my hope and prayer is that I will remain like him when I am 87 and dealing with the complications of life and aging.
Happy Birthday! I love you, Uncle Bob. You have my whole heart. I am glad you live well, enjoy learning, share generously, and profoundly believe that life is a gift until Jesus calls you home!
Tonight on the National News, there was a clip on the protests of this past summer. By a feeling in my body, I remember how I prayed we would not let this movement for racial equality be one that fades away. I fear in so many ways that have happened yet again.
Several essential discussions are unfolding in the circles around me.
There is the one of racial equality and addressing white privilege.
There is the conversation of gender identity and inclusion. The questions that surround that both in our culture and our Faith feel critical to me.
There are discussions of political division, and how do we as a nation unite when the chasm feels so great?
There is hunger, abortion, poverty, and so many more areas of critical discussion.
Over the last year, I have learned that good people stand on both sides of an issue. However, I do not believe we can land there and call it good enough any longer. Somehow we have to venture out of our comfort zones to explore new space, perhaps conversations not yet had, to discover common ground not yet claimed.
Do we dare hope that there might be a way to venture into new spaces that heal our conflicts and discriminatory practices?
I have never been a fan of saying you should or you must. I believe the healthiest movement will unfold when we invite others to consider something fresh. We must stand together in uncomfortable spaces agreeing to consider something different from what we have clung to in the past.
It seems pretty clear to me that the people of Faith and maturity should lead this movement.
It is pretty discouraging to my heart to see how those mature people of Faith are often fueling the fire.
If you received an email about a Test blog earlier tonight, please know that was my error, and I was not hacked. I thought I was on a friend’s blog setting her up to go live, but when I got my alert that it posted, all I could do was groan and know that many of you may have received an email about a posted blog.
I have been missing my Dad lately in more poignant ways. I feel like my body senses still when we enter March, April, and May that the memories still feel fresh. I know the date he had his seizure and the journey of those seven weeks from diagnosis to death. It will be three years this year. I am confident, now than ever, that time is an odd thing when reflecting on grief.
But I share that only to give context to this. My Dad taught us a lot about showing up. My sister wrote his eulogy and these are some of her words:
I asked my siblings and nieces and nephew’s to spend some time reflecting on what Papa’s life taught them about who he was and who we are. What comes next is a compilation of seven things we heard when we listened to how he chose to live.
Show up to church when your community gathers to worship.
Show up for your friends when hard things happen.
Show up for your family when they perform or play in a game or celebrate a milestone and lock their keys in their car again.
He loved to solve our problems. If someone he liked were stirring the pot for a just cause, he would grab a spoon, show up and stir that pot with them. He was with us, and I dare say many of you, in real and tangible ways when we needed someone just like him to show up.
My friend told me her word for the year is “show up.”
I had this come across my screen in 3 places this week:
And I am aware that during winter I feel a bit blah. It would be easy for me to find reasons not to show up right now. But in these odd ways, I am encouraged to stay the course, remain engaged with those around me, press on and be present and follow my Dad’s lead.
My Dad’s life and death taught me that sometimes life changes quickly and unexpected things unfold. I want to live each day to the fullest. I want to make a difference in my world by showing up!
I wonder where you will show up this week and be glad you did?
Maybe because it will be good for your soul and perhaps because it will encourage another person, but most often, those two go hand in hand.
Go and be present this week, trusting that what you bring is needed!
I write a blog first and foremost to mark the journey of each day. There is goodness and hardship, laughter and tears, days of solid contentment and days of deep doubt. Everynday is marked with uniqueness and I don’t want to lose that beautiful reality.
Today was a day of beauty and joy. There will be more pictures than words. The title says it well. Family, fun, snow and sun. A day of playing and laughting, talking and being together.
I hope you have days like this to mark your week or month. I trust you also find ways to mark these extra ordinary moments.
And such graitude for this home we can get away too for time spent with family in the snow and the sun!
I wasn’t feeling any inspiration tonight, and so I went to my inspiration folder. I found this, and my heart felt sparked.
This picture often speaks HOPE to me. Rarely do I feel like I am at the final step of release, but thank God, I am not in the first position. I will say that I can remember being there.
There was a season of my life where I knew that my daily choices were not aligning with the person I desired to become. I would even pray to experience transformation and still refuse to move into new spaces where change and transformation awaited me.
Each of the images represents a change to me. Change comes with a commitment to want something different, hard work, a willingness to lay down resistance, live into the unknown, and always celebrate movement.
I wonder where you are longing for change in your being, your routine, or your environment? What image do you relate to, and what steps will it take to be the man/woman who celebrates freedom and transformation?
Live with courage, my friends.
Live into the changes/transformation that awaits you!
I am all for the growth process.
I am aware that in that growth process, we often feel stretched and challenged.
Today I was reminded of the importance of physical stretching. I am way more disciplined in my emotional practices for challenge and growth than my physical. Now that I am two weeks post-COVID vaccine, I scheduled myself a massage.
It was clear upon starting that the dear soul I had met on my walk to the room had hands that could reach the very fine fibers of my ligaments, tendons, and muscles.
It was an uncomfortable 50 minutes, the kind of discomfort you know will serve you well, but painful nonetheless.
I believe this powerful young woman brought every muscle and fiber out of COVID hiding and called my body into action once again.
Today’s massage was a perfect one. The masseuse was magnificent. The depth of her deep tissue reach was therapeutic. The invitation from my body to become active again felt plausible, and I had a genuine sense that God’s creation of our bodies never ceases to amaze me!
I wonder if you ever use massage to awake your soul?
Take it from me; it is dollars well spent for an awakening that I badly needed!
I want to write to you today about anxiety. I believe there is a seed of worry in every breathing person.
Some of us work with such zeal to bury this seed of anxiety. We try to trample it, destroy it and deny it. We do that through addiction to food, alcohol, work, exercise, pornography, technology, video games or Netflix, just to name a few. I think you get the idea. If we take away our addiction, oddly, our anxiety seeds start to flourish. 🙂
Some of us are aware of our seeds and are afraid of what might grow from them. We tiptoe around them and avoid them. We give them some time and attention but only in the shadows where no one is looking. We do not want to let anyone know that this seed exists in our soil. We don’t destroy it, but we don’t acknowledge it or name it out loud either.
Some of us know the seed has taken root, and our anxiety lives as part of our being. We don’t like it, but we name it and are aware that it doesn’t feel unruly if tended. It is just part of living honestly.
Some of us give too much power to the seed and ignore all the life-giving roots surrounding this seed, including joy, peace, love, hope, laughter, contentment, and so many more.
I know this is a simplified view of anxiety. Still, maybe it will help us recognize that everyone has it, and it often shrinks and grows and shrinks again during different seasons of life.
Why do I call this anxiety and faith?
I want to remind you that our feelings, not our faith, trigger anxiety. I hear people relate anxiety to a lack of trust in God, and I don’t believe that is a kind or true narrative. I also don’t think that God typically works in such a way to take away our anxieties if we pray hard enough.
I believe God invites us to live honestly into the feelings we hold and to learn to navigate them with an understanding of God, ourselves, and others. It is a journey, and the journey can and likely will grow and deepen our faith. From my perspective, anxiety does not relate to a person’s lack of faith in God or God’s love for them. It is about where we feel powerless, invisible, overlooked, worthless, and so much more.
We must be curious about what feelings trigger or fuel our anxieties.
We must be curious about what we believe about God, ourself or others in those strong spaces when those feelings bubble up.
We must be committed to sorting out the web of feeling in order to decrease the anxiety. God has given us the tools to work with and people around us to guide the navigation journey.
Peace to you and your anxious thoughts, my friends. May we be kind to one another in our joy and our anxieties!