Tag Archives: Beauty

All you need is hugs…

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Free_hugsHugs may not be all we need in reality, but they can sure make a difference in your life.  I know two people who are without a doubt the best huggers in the world.  When they hug you it makes you feel like the most loved and secure person ever. Growing up, my family was pretty conservative with hugs. Over time new people would become members of our family and through them we were taught the way a hug can make your feel.  It’s been an irreplaceable gift.

i’ve recently gotten to know a married couple where one of the spouses has Alzheimer’s Disease. She can be funny and silly and frankly not make a lot of sense.  However, she has an amazing way of communicating that is easily understood. She hugs. If she wants to hug you, watch out!  Ann walks up to strangers and tells them they look like they need a hug and out go her arms. She doesn’t think twice about it.

Recently Ann and her husband went on a vacation to Colorado.  As Ann’s Alzheimer’s has progressed, her “filters” have weakened.  We received a note from Ann’s husband about their experience.  I’d like to share it.

“I wanted to share a great story about Ann that has taught me a lot and that we can all learn an important life lesson from.  As many of you know, Ann’s “filters” in life have been lessoned quite a bit the past several years from her disease.  She loves to walk up to people she does not know and offer random words of affirmation, encouragement and hugs.  Her favorite “targets” are young moms with kids and elderly women.  Recently Ann was shopping with our daughter in law and randomly went up to a lady, got her attention, and with a big smile looked her in the eye and told her how beautiful she was.  Ann reached out and they hugged for a long time.  The lady was quite emotional and said, “ I am 84 years old and I really needed this today.”

I have been with Ann when she has done this literally 100’s of times these past several years. I have never, never, seen Ann get a negative response.  Many are taken back at first, but they always seem to quickly warm up to her.  Sometimes she tells them her story about her health.

I was thinking about Ann’s lack of filters and wondered about the filters in my life and all of ours that keeps us from treating others in a similar manner every time we walk out the door. Filters of feeling too busy in life to take time to care, filters of fear of rejection, filters or fears of being vulnerable,  filters of being afraid of what others will think about us when they observe us, filters of not wanting to get involved in people’s lives we don’t know.

Ann has been unable to be involved in much formal ministry work these past couple of years because of her disease.  I think God is using her in an amazing way in people’s lives by her random acts of affirmation, encouragement, kindness, and lots of hugs.  Sure it can feel uncomfortable for those of us with her at times, but then again, WWJD.  I know it has stretched me in my life in the way I have been interacting with people more openly these past couple of years.”

The note continued on further, but the best part is what I shared above.  I have been a recipient of Ann’s hugs.  They do wonders.  While I do not wish Alzheimer’s on anyone, there is goodness that has come from the ugliness of this disease.  I hope in my life it doesn’t take something tragic to make me earnestly strive to help another person feel better.  Imagine the impact we could have on each other by saying , “You are beautiful!” and extending your arms to hug.

I can’t say I’m ready to completely release my inhibitions, but perhaps I can start with a smile, or a hello.   Maybe Ann’s experience will help me to lighten up.  I hope so,
because it would make a world of difference.

All we need is hugs…and more Anns.

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Unplugged

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Yesterday morning’s routine started as most where I wake up, freshen up a bit and then go on a morning walk with my dog to get both of us exercised and clear-thinking for the day. Spring hasn’t quite gotten the idea that it’s time for it’s arrival yet so the weather outside was a little crisp-like the first bite of fresh Gala apple.
As I assembled myself for the walk I couldn’t find my earbuds anywhere. The typical routine includes my listening to a select number of radio programs on the journey to help camouflage the distance we are trying to attain.

I got the novel idea to free myself from Tune-In and just listen to the natural sounds that surrounded us. I wanted to use my senses to absorb the environment and try to get in touch with the beautiful creations that God gifted to us.

Once I warmed to the slight chill in the air my first sight of beauty was seeing the sun glaze over an initially still pond showing a range of tangerines hues. Slight ripples from a gentle breeze wavered the colors across the water creating interesting effects like the flames of a fire.
Most mornings I notice a few hawks gliding through the sky, but for some reason this day it was two giant black crows. They had words to share that I didn’t understand and swooped up and down around me a few times until they realized my dog and I really weren’t that interesting after all.

The wind picked up slightly and the dry branches of most of the trees tousled about as we passed along our route. Those too timid to sprout displayed the intricate weavings of twigs and leaves that many a bird called home at one time.

A few trees had buds on them, but they must have felt too cold to open up and completely display their colors. Though, there were a few brave enough to expose their flowers with their petals shivering from the cold and breeze.
The terrain is hilly where we walk and there are moments where you see glints of distances miles away with houses and cars and busses hustling to get to their destinations. But that didn’t distract for long as I got reabsorbed in the beauty surrounding me quickly.

What must the first few days of creation been like? A world freshly unpacked and unaffected by man-made things. How did the animals respond to each other? Did the species all get along? The water must have been crystal clear with a purity we will never know in our lifetime. Trees obviously bore fruit. Was the earth filled with color? Was it filled with jumbled sounds from melodic birds? Could you hear a pin drop at night when the stars blazed across the sky? Was the sky so clear it really looked like a curtain of diamonds?
What an amazing 30 minutes I had before reality set in for the day. My dog probably notices this stuff every day. She’s very in tune with her surroundings through her nose and ears and eyes. I take for granted the loveliness God provided to each and every one of us. I need to change that and take advantage of the pleasure that my unplugged walk resulted in. For that unexpected time I give thanks and praise to our Creator.

PSALM 148

1 Praise the Lord.

Praise the Lord from the heavens;
praise him in the heights above.
2 Praise him, all his angels;
praise him, all his heavenly hosts.
3 Praise him, sun and moon;
praise him, all you shining stars.
4 Praise him, you highest heavens
and you waters above the skies.

5 Let them praise the name of the Lord,
for at his command they were created,
6 and he established them for ever and ever—
he issued a decree that will never pass away.

7 Praise the Lord from the earth,
you great sea creatures and all ocean depths,
8 lightning and hail, snow and clouds,
stormy winds that do his bidding,
9 you mountains and all hills,
fruit trees and all cedars,
10 wild animals and all cattle,
small creatures and flying birds,
11 kings of the earth and all nations,
you princes and all rulers on earth,
12 young men and women,
old men and children.

13 Let them praise the name of the Lord,
for his name alone is exalted;
his splendor is above the earth and the heavens.
14 And he has raised up for his people a horn,[b]
the praise of all his faithful servants,
of Israel, the people close to his heart.

Praise the Lord.