My father died in 2005 at the age of eighty-nine. Yesterday I drove by the place where we bought his hearing aids. I remembered the young man who helped us through the process. Daddy was nervous and apprehensive, but the young man put him at ease with his sense of humor and respectful nature. His name was David. I don’t know why I remember his name. Our only interaction with him concerned hearing aids, but I feel grateful for his expertise and his kindness.
It’s interesting how people we don’t know show up in our lives and change the course of a difficult day or a challenging situation. Sometimes they intentionally seek to help us through a particular circumstance; other times they are simply doing what they do, being who they are. Either way, I’m grateful for all of them, every single one of them.
An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up. Proverbs 12:25
HE HAS MADE EVERYTHING BEAUTIFUL IN ITS TIME. HE HAS ALSO SET ETERNITY IN THE HUMAN HEART; YET NO ONE CAN FATHOM WHAT GOD HAS DONE FROM BEGINNING TO END. Ecclesiastes 3:11
I promoted myself to the Primary class. Feeling confident I could keep up with the seven-year-olds, I walked past the Beginners’ class where I belonged and down the hall to Miss Linda’s room. I loved Miss Ruth, but I was ready to move on. Quietly, I took a seat at one of the little tables. Miss Linda asked me if I wanted to go back to my Sunday School class. I told her no. I wanted to stay with her. When she gave me sentence strips, glue, and glitter, I knew I was in the right place.
When Mama asked me why I didn’t go to my class I responded, “I’m not a baby!” (My tears cast serious doubt on that argument!) Even so, after several unsuccessful attempts to sell me on remaining in Miss Ruth’s class, Mama conceded. I could move on to Miss Linda’s class. Life was good.
The next Sunday, donned in my red crinoline and black patent shoes, hand-in-hand with Mama, I walked to my new class, or so I thought. She held onto my hand as we walked into the Beginners’ class. Are you kidding me? I thought we settled this! Miss Ruth hugged me and asked me if I wanted to stay. Staring at the floor, I shook my head from side to side. I didn’t know whether to hold Mama’s hand tighter or prepare for a breakaway. I peeked up at Miss Ruth. She smiled, then winked at Mama. Relief washed over my stubborn little self as we headed down the hall to the Primary class.
Mama and I used to laugh when we recalled the day I took promotion into my own hands. As an adult, though, I know that waiting is often where my faith grows and His plan becomes clear. God holds my hand to give me strength and help me pace myself. Running ahead of Him alters His timing. He always forgives me and helps me get back on track, but I can miss His best if I rush.
Thank You for Your presence in our lives. Thank You for Your plan. Help us to stay on track with Your will for our lives.
In 1987 I became an officially published writer through a magazine article I wrote entitled When I Am Weak. I was in my thirties and nearing the end of my third bout with pneumonia in less than three years. The pneumonia stemmed from an underlying respiratory problem that had resulted in removal of part of my right lung in the 1970s with hospitalizations before and after the surgery. I was scared. I was broken. Treatment involved high dosages of cortisone. Side effects sometimes felt worse than the disease. Recovery was in sight, but I was sick of being sick. I cried a lot. I prayed a lot. I wrote about the power of God’s strength when we come to the end of our rope because I was experiencing His presence and strength within my weakened body and spirit. I wrote about healing that comes from humility and honesty because I was experiencing healing in areas of my life other than just my health. His way was better than my way. His strength was greatest in my weakness. I got it.
Or did I?
Three years later, the respiratory problem reared its head again. I minimized my symptoms when I saw my pulmonologist. Why? I didn’t want to take cortisone. I felt proud of myself when I convinced my doctor to let me try something other than cortisone since the symptoms were so “mild.” I prayed. God, I’ve got so many things on my plate. Please fix this. I don’t have time to be sick. In 1990 I wanted to be healed on my terms. What about humility and honesty and the power of God’s strength in my weakness that I’d written about in 1987? Had I forgotten?
Weekly checkups with my doctor revealed that the blood tests didn’t match the downplayed symptoms I continued to tout. He performed a bronchoscopy, and the truth came out. “I don’t know how you’ve been able to walk around,” he said. “All of your air valves were completely clogged except one, and it was partially clogged. If it had become clogged like the others, you would have fallen over dead in your tracks.” He gave me a shot of cortisone and the regimen began. In an instant, my self-centered I don’t have time for this vanished. Full recovery took almost a year with higher dosages of cortisone than I’ve ever taken before or since that episode.
What was I thinking? Looking back, I honestly don’t know. Maybe I took my health for granted after three years of good health or maybe in the busyness of life I simply forgot what I’d learned. I don’t think the mistake of 1990 negates the experience of 1987. I had experienced God’s strength in my weakness, and I understood that His way is better than my way. That part was real. In 1990, however, I saw firsthand how I can stumble and fail even when I understand a truth about God, even when I think I got it.
Perhaps the greatest lesson of 1990 came in the form of a gift. Now, when I let my pride get the best of me, when I act on selfish desires rather than what I know to be true, I can remember a time in 1990 when I did the same thing and He forgave me and loved me through the consequences of what I’d done. I have a real, personal experience to help me understand that my Heavenly Father, through the humility and brokenness of His son, Jesus, who took upon Himself the penalty for every sin I ever have or ever will commit, always welcomes me with open arms if I am humble and broken by what I’ve done and what He has already done for me because….His compassions fail not. They are new every morning: GREAT IS THY FAITHFULNESS.
The question was about lessons learned, and I thought I’d completed my answer on a Saturday morning. Two days later I awakened with this life lesson pressing against my mind. It gnawed at my thoughts all morning until, finally, I added it to what I’d already written. Later on I realized this final answer summarized the other lessons I’d listed, and I hadn’t fully understood what I’d learned until I wrote it down.
. . . . And I’ve learned that reaping what I’ve sown isn’t a punishment. It’s the naturalflow of life. The way God designed it to be. He’s with me when I sow. He’s with me when I reap. Even when the seeds are hurtful and the harvest damaging, He doesn’t leave me to my own devices to straighten things out.
He loves me through it, showing me the truth when I open myself up to it, inspiring me through His Spirit to keep going. He takes damaging harvests that I produce, and He turns them into something beautiful, sometimes even something tangible, in my life.
A walk off grand slam in the bottom of the eleventh! Not the tenth. Not the ninth. The eleventh inning in the second game of a double header. I’m a Washington Nats fan, and I’m lovin’ it!
Howie Kendrick pulled it off. Of course Murphy set the stage when he got on first then made it to third on Zim’s base hit. After the Giants walked Rendon to pitch to Kendrick, he did it. Kendrick hit a grand slam!
Teamwork works. And you don’t lose points for taking extra innings to hit a grand slam. A grand slam is a grand slam. Anytime. Anywhere.
I was a late bloomer and well into my twenties when my teenage rebellion exploded. Most of my friends were past the hump of challenging authority and “the establishment” as we called it, but I was just getting started. What traditionally came in the color blue met resistance on my life’s canvas. I insisted on painting it yellow or pink or green. Anything but blue.
My friends looked forward to getting married and starting a family. I looked forward to getting an apartment and starting a job. I wanted to be Mary Richards, not June Cleaver. Nothing wrong with desiring independence. In some ways I was just me being me. But add on an ample dose of rebellion and the result amounted to one wrong decision after another.
Looking back, I know I was headed in the wrong direction. Deep down I knew it then. Even so, I kept going. Filled with pride and stubbornness, I had to make the decision to stop, turn around, and walk a different way for myself. No one could make that decision for me.
I’ve been asked if I have regrets. The answer is yes. I wish I’d done some things differently. But my regrets are covered in gratitude for God’s grace and mercy. Gratitude for people He brought my way who told me the truth.
I think God has a divine plan for all our lives, but I also think He doesn’t force His plan on us. He doesn’t force us to be with Him. We get to choose. For me, I know that my life is better when I choose Him.
It had been one of those days. I know better than to worry and second guess myself, going back and forth in my mind about what I could have done or should have done differently. But I was doing it- off and on all day long. By the end of the day I was tired, exhausted actually, and flustered.
On the way home I stopped at the store, feeling aggravated that I had let myself run out of a couple of things that couldn’t wait until morning. At the checkout I struggled to pull my billfold from my small shoulder bag, then handed the cashier a twenty dollar bill. At least I’ll be home soon and this day will be over!
Then, the cashier handed me my change and receipt. “Twelve dollars and twelve cents,” she said. I gasped, and felt my shoulders relax as I exhaled. I couldn’t help but smile.
Twelve. The number that symbolizes God’s perfect governance. The twelve disciples, the twelve tribes, the twelve baskets that were left over. The list goes on and on. And for me, on that particular day, the gentle reminder that He was there, He was in control, and I could relax.
Walking back to my car I looked up and whispered Thank You. It had been one of those days, but at the end of the day I slept well. Very well.
God said, “My presence will go with you. I’ll see the journey to the end.” Exodus 33:14
It’s been an interesting week to say the least. For awhile now a chain of unexpected, yet connected events unfolded in my life in a way that prompted me to ask, finally, for information I’d wondered about for years but never given serious thought to actually seeking or asking for it. I awakened Monday morning knowing I would make the call. It took me a minute or so to position myself on the sofa just so, grab pen and paper, place a glass of tea on the table beside me, and give a quick touch to the mute button on the remote, change to pause then back to mute. I had looked up the telephone number Sunday night so I tapped the saved number on my phone and sat up straight. I always sit up straight when making important phone calls as if good posture somehow improves hearing.
After three rings a young woman answered the phone. Ninety seconds and three questions later the call ended. The shelf life of the dated, pre-Google information I sought had expired. It no longer exists- in any form.
I sat in silence. Even in a world of computer stored data I knew there was a good possibility the information would be gone, but I’d chosen to indulge my thoughts in the possibility that maybe it could be retrieved. Maybe I could know.
Briefly, I cried. Then, as I moved forward with my plans for the rest of the day- the rest of the week, I gave little thought to Monday’s phone call. Until this morning.
A few quiet moments over an extra cup of coffee drew a few more tears accompanied by a few fleeting feelings of emptiness. Then came the realization that I’d gotten exactly the answer I needed to hear. Knowing that I can’t know keeps me from wondering about it and dwelling on it. Instead, my thoughts turned to the One who knows all about the situation and all about me.
The One who knows every detail of my life- I can seek Him. I can know Him. That’s my answer. That’s my closure. And that’s my peace of mind.
When does passion become obsession? Honestly, I’m not sure. But while I’m sitting in the hair salon waiting for my gray hair, wrapped in foil, to turn blonde I’m thinking about the word of the day- obsessed. My first thought is about my passion for writing and how writing feels like an extension of myself. I believe it is my God-given purpose, but I know it’s not my only purpose. Being the introvert that I am, I can easily slip into a state of obsession rather than passion when it comes to writing. Time flies when I’m alone with my laptop.
Even so, I sometimes feel those gnawing, persistent nudges in my heart to do this or that, and this or that almost always propels me into situations where I am more engaged with the people around me. Sometimes I’m resistant, but when I follow my heart I gain balance. And interestingly enough, my passion for writing is enhanced- not diminished by my temporary participation in the this-or-thats of my nudgings.
Well, my hair is done, and like some of the wrinkles on my face were lessened by my exfoliator this morning, some of the gray hairs on my head are now blonde. But not all of them. I guess you could say my hair and face are balanced. And that’s exactly what I hope for in my writing. Balance brings new experiences and fresh perspectives that keep my passion alive, nourished, and away from the clutches of obsession.
It’s painful to find my favorite CDs tossed into the $3.99 bin. How did this happen? I’m in my sixties now, and my analog list grows as more and more of my favorites slide off the list of things that qualified me as “hip” back in the day to the list of things I have to define or describe, often unsuccessfully, to the trending generation.
Yes, I love a book with crisp pages that can be turned rather than tapped. And in a restaurant I like to place my order with a waitress rather than keying it in to a machine at my table. Plastic ice trays are a must have in my freezer that opens with a door at the top of my refrigerator rather than a drawer at the bottom. In the mornings I hand wash my dishes after drinking plain, black coffee. Not latte or mocha caramel something or other. I do, however, send and receive texts….often. But no form of communication beats a face-to-face conversation. I’d rather sit and have a talk with you over a glass of iced tea than Skype or text or email or post on your timeline or tweet or even talk with you by phone.
Analog, for me, is about simple. The older I get the more I like the simple things in life. And the faster my items once classified as trendy make the big shift to analog. I remember transitioning from vinyl records to eight tracks to cassettes to CDs. Now, even CDs have found their place on my analog list. When did CDs become extinct? And what, exactly, is MP3?