Tag Archives: change

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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Tears in a bottle

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Tonight the tears have been streaming down my face a little.  Nothing with great hysteria; just a steady run of water plunging down the slope of my facial contours that have sharpened with age.   I’m going through a mini- phase of self pity wondering why my family and I ended up moving several states away from the place we called home for 20 years or so.  Mostly I manage because my new job has kept me busy.  However, tonight the heart strings were pulled.  There isn’t a specific reason.  Maybe it’s just time to release a little of the toxins I’ve built up in my body with stress and pressure of my life changes.

I’m also preparing for an extensive trip for work which will take me out of the country for a few weeks. I suppose I’m inventorying everything I have to do and prepare for and with this kind of trip I always pray a little harder that guardian angels will be watching over my family and me.  I will be so far away that II won’t be in a position to take immediate action of any sort if any emergency arises. 

I’ve always been one to shed tears in an emotional response to just about anything.  It can be happy or sad.  It can be fear or pain.  I admit it.  I am a cryer.  If you don’t cry, you can’t appreciate how good it feels once you’ve stopped crying.  The chemicals in your body just go crazy for a little bit and when you finally relax there is this wonderful moment of peace that something awful has passed and there is now light shining in the darkness.

By coincidence, this morning the Psalm I read was 56: 8-13.  Maybe I talked myself into having some emotional stress due to the message I read earlier today.  It says God keeps track of all our sorrows.  He collects our tears in His bottle. He has recorded each one in His book.  God is on our side.  He has rescued us.  He keeps our feet from slipping.  I can walk in His life-giving light.

I don’t think a bottle is quite enough for the tears I’ve shed in my lifetime.  When I was little my dad could simply say my name and the tears would come running.  I couldn’t control it though parents always think you can.  I would have so much anxiety built up in me that by the time the last syllable of my name was released the tear bottle was half full!  It was a release– a way to let the pressure ooze out of my body.  

Crying makes many uncomfortable but to me it is a testament to honesty.  People can hide all sorts of emotions, but once they cry it’s real and pure.

There are several things that make Psalm 56 cool to me.  The Psalm is based on a time when David was in hiding and running away to keep from being killed.  It shows me a side of humankind that we all share- fear, anxiety, being on the edge, vulnerable and uncomfortable, seeking but not finding respite from life’s realities.  Yet long term David made it through this situation and there was much good in store for him.  

The idea that God recognizes our feelings and accounts for them is like having a cozy blanket wrapped around your body on a cold night.  Throughout the Bible we are told of situations where God keeps track of us- He knew us before we were formed and he won’t leave us nor forsake us.  Even the worst of the worst has the opportunity to be with Him in paradise.  

Jesus cried.  David cried.  I cried.  Het gets it.  He feels it.  He knows it.  He can relate to us.  Psalm 56 speaks in a tone that suggests God is still keeping track of us.  He is watching out for us.  

I’ll never understand why God lets bad things happen.  I have to just remind myself that I am not in this world for my own purposes.  To admit that, you will be in the minority, but it seems to me to be a very healthy approach to understanding that God’s purposes supercede whatever we have on the calendar.  

I’ve kind of wandered a bit today, but the tears have dried up..  I guess all in all the reality of God loving me, yes even tearful me, has been reinforced.  He’s keeping track of us so what we do in our lives each day makes a difference. Most importantly He is preparing for us to be with Him.  He is recording parts of our lives in His book. He is helping me to recognize and admit it’s not about me.  

Some of us need big bottles and some of us need smaller sizes.  The good news is that God’s bottle supply is never ending.  

I saw Jesus at breakfast!

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After a fun filled night with friends, the group of us were having a buffet breakfast at a local hotel.  The conversation went from frivolous to serious fairly quick.  I’m dealing with a lot of change in my life right now and frankly, I can’t say I’m doing a good job.  I’ve tried to keep my head up like a good buckaroo, but I’ve allowed gremlins to sneak in and confuse, undermine and perplex me.  

Like it or not, and for the moment it is not, my family is going to be moving out of state for the purpose of my starting a new job.  This was not my plan.  I do not want to go.  I feel pushed into this situation and I’ve had some strong feelings about it.  

A year ago I lost a key client I worked with and losing that business turned my world upside down.  Aside from the financial toll, which has been extreme, the emotional pressure of this situation brought me down and has had me pinned to the floor regardless of my cries screaming, uncle, uncle!

I was emotionally incapacitated for the second time in my life and though I was better equipped to handle it this go around, I didn’t avoid the turmoil, tears, darkness and fear that surrounded me like Pig Pen’s dust cloud.   I fell prey to it all and I’ve been slowly crawling back to a place where I can talk about it all without falling apart. 

It’s amazing what anxiety can do to you.  For me it strikes suddenly and unexpectedly.  I’m amazingly gifted when it comes to keeping my feelings deep down inside of me and covering the blemishes of my life so that no one knows any better. However, I can’t keep that up for long and, without resolve, the truth surfaces and I am in a ball on my bed with tears streaming down my face.  

So my friends and I are discussing the various possibilities of where my life will lead.  You see, at the end of February my family and I will officially be leaving our current home and need a place to stay for about a month.  We don’t know where that will be yet.  After that month, we will likely be moving to one of two different states, but we don’t know where that will be yet.  We think I will have a new job and that job will determine the state we are moving to, but we don’t know that yet. We aren’t sure if our child will finish out her school year where she is or be transferring to a new school.  We don’t know where to put the things that we are packing up and I’m trying to reorganize a business that also comes with a lot of “things” to move somewhere.  It’s complicated.

I’m sharing with my friends to answer their many questions pretty much relating to what I’ve mentioned above.  I admit that I have come to the conclusion that God needed to take away the things I’m so dearly attached to in my life so that I would end up making some decisions to do things I wouldn’t have done otherwise.  In a million years I would not be considering moving to another state had I not lost the business contract I mentioned.  Losing that contract made our house very difficult to pay for and after time we came to the conclusion we had to sell it.  We didn’t know where we would be going, but we couldn’t afford to remain in it.  We sold the house in three days of being on the market and there were four offers on it– all which were worth consideration.  The closing took some time to organize so we were able to stay in the house longer than we anticipated.  I have had half a dozen job opportunities come my way…not a single one where I live now.  My husband did get a new job in our current state and it will transfer to one of the other states if we end up going that direction.  My daughter is excited to be moving- and I can’t explain that at all.  I’ve been offered a position, out of state,  on a contractual basis to try it for three months before making a final decision.  That gives me some continued freedoms and helps me ease out of my current business.  Since we don’t have to move yet we’ve been fortunate to be able to rent back our home for most of the time I’m consulting so we do have a place to live.  Several friends have offered us a place to stay the final month before we actually need to move.

I’m going over how this plan, none of which was my own, seems to be working itself out perfectly, even without my support,  and I’m reflecting on Jesus’ love, purpose and will for my life.  As I’m talking about this the chef walks by our table with a big smile on his face.  He is dressed superbly in crisp white and his name is beautifully and clearly embroidered on the front side of his outfit.

Guess what the chef’s name is? 

“Jesus”

 

Psalm 143

A psalm of David.

Lord, hear my prayer,
    listen to my cry for mercy;
in your faithfulness and righteousness
    come to my relief.
Do not bring your servant into judgment,
    for no one living is righteous before you.
The enemy pursues me,
    he crushes me to the ground;
he makes me dwell in the darkness
    like those long dead.
So my spirit grows faint within me;
    my heart within me is dismayed.
I remember the days of long ago;
    I meditate on all your works
    and consider what your hands have done.
I spread out my hands to you;
    I thirst for you like a parched land.[a]

Answer me quickly, Lord;
    my spirit fails.
Do not hide your face from me
    or I will be like those who go down to the pit.
Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,
    for I have put my trust in you.
Show me the way I should go,
    for to you I entrust my life.
Rescue me from my enemies, Lord,
    for I hide myself in you.
10 Teach me to do your will,
    for you are my God;
may your good Spirit
    lead me on level ground.

11 For your name’s sake, Lord, preserve my life;

    in your righteousness, bring me out of trouble.
12 In your unfailing love, silence my enemies;
    destroy all my foes,
    for I am your servant.

 

Are you there God? It’s me ______________.

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I’m reposting a blog entry that a friend sent me from devotion@lutheranchurchcharities.org

It’s really appropriate for this time in my life and maybe in yours as well.  How do you know that a decision you are facing is following God’s will?  We all want the answers to life’s tough calls attached to a note hanging from a string that comes down from Heaven.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t happen that way.  God forces us to seek His will (if that’s what we want) by being in communion with Him.  As confusion swirls around me about choices I have in my life I examined and read over and over again the devotion below.  I hope it’s helpful to you too. 

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you. Psalms 32:8

Solomon says, ‘Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails’ (Proverbs 19:21). Even though your plans are imperfect, if your heart’s right, God will make things turn out for your good and His glory. Are you having difficulty sorting out your ideas from His? We all struggle with that, especially when the Bible does not give us specifics. For example, when it is time to move or marry or change jobs, what should you do? Listen: ‘”I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go…”‘ You say, ‘That’s nice, but I would like a little more detail.’ Okay:

First, ideas go away but God’s direction stays. There is persistence in His leading, that is why time is on your side. Do not rush ahead of Him. Second, God’s direction is usually impossible to follow without Him. He plans it that way. Jesus said, ‘”…without Me you can do nothing”‘ (John 15:5). Third, God’s direction usually begins with discomfort. Listen: ‘like an eagle stirs up its nest . . . The Lord . . . led him…’ (Deuteronomy 32:11-12). Eagles learn to fly when their mother pushes them out of the nest and over the cliff’s edge. Can you imagine their thoughts? ‘It’s my mother doing this to me!’ Yet it is only when the eagle is forced out of its comfort zone that it discovers it was born to fly, spreads its wings, releases its power and finds its place in the heavens. Has God been stirring up your nest? Relax! He’s leading you!

Prayer
Heavenly Father, today help me look and listen to see only those things that are consistent with Your Word, Your nature, Your character – and then to follow. In Jesus’ Name, Amen