It seems I tend to send deep thoughts from my driveway as I sit in my car when I arrive home from somewhere from time to time. Today is one of one of those times.
It’s almost six o’clock on a quiet Saturday evening. I opened the car windows and lingered for awhile, feeling like a brief nap was about to overcome me. As I am still, I become aware of all of nature’s harmony around me. The peeper frogs are in full chorus in the small wetland across the road. Somewhere in the distance I hear a dove cooing. I have always loved that sound and find it rather haunting. I can hear the call of a redwing blackbird and see many small birds dancing through the air just ahead. A pair of geese just took off from the lake on the corner, honking in flight. There is a gentle breeze moving constantly and causing the 70 degree day to cool some. Trees are just budding now and the tendrils hanging from the birch trees are gently swaying. Some many variations of yellow and green catch my eye as life reemerges across the landscape. A reawakening prairie spreads before me just over the road. My heart is so full with the joy of my surroundings and I realize, I get to live here! Since having any memories from a young age, this is exactly what speaks to my soul. God is so faithful. He created me this way, and then set me in the very place that restores me. Thank you Lord for the gifts we can enjoy in being still.
Writing is like talking. Like when you sit down with a good friend. Most often we do not even remember how the conversation started, we just talk, right?
About what? A book, or maybe a program that really inspired you. Perhaps you share the disaster that was the new recipe you tried last week. Or maybe that diet that changed your life. The story on the news that made you feel sad. You know, like friends talk. Step one of course then, is to think about what you would share with a friend. It’s easy! Really!
Open up a computer word processor document and start in. Don’t think too much about it. Just pour it all into the document. Treat that doc like a friend. Imagine that she is listening intently and nodding as you “speak” into the document. She might ask for details. You might need to look up the answer to a question that comes up- but don’t stop to look for answers now! Make note of the spots that will need further facts or details and just keep “talking” into the document. Use the words that you would use sitting down with that friend. No dictionary needed. No poetic phases required. No perfect sentences needed. Don’t worry if it makes no sense. The things you say may not come to you in an orderly fashion. Just let them flow. The beautiful thing about talking to a document is that you can rearrange and fix and edit easily… later.
Contributed by: Audrey Schultz~ Journal entry November 2014
The phone rang at 9:30 p.m. the other night and the caller ID read a 507-area code number. I knew it was the memory care unit. “Your mother’s had an episode. She went limp and looked unusual and her vital signs were all over the place. We laid her down and called the hospice nurse and she’s on her way right now.”
I drove the 15 miles and arrived just after the hospice nurse. We went together into Mom’s darkened room and I saw the woman I’ve come to know now, her skinny limbs exposed from under a teal nightgown I didn’t recognize as hers.
Such is my mother now—ninety-seven years old and declined to the point of only an occasional smile upon recognizing me. That’s the communication we share now.
Why should I care? Do I care? Who cares? How can I really care? I was wondering. So, like everyone who wants to know anything, I Googled it. Searching for “How to really care.” It was all about how to “impress” that new date and “improve” relationships. But it all seemed kind of fake. Just pretend this or that, so she/he will “think” you care. Then there was a subset of items around how to know if someone “really” cares. Wow. Pretty sad. But. There was an element of truth in the results that kept getting my attention. Listening.
Have you ever talked to someone who didn’t let you talk? Someone so intensely into the telling of a story that they could not focus on anything else. Someone who takes no notice of your eye rolls or deep sighs. Someone who has a tremendous need inside them to tell, to talk, to get the story out. Someone who needs healing or prayer or faith? Perhaps as they finish the telling and they slow down and relax and release the intensity, you might be able to speak. But should you? I wonder. What about listening?
I must respond to the article recently posted on the Threads Blog about me. Thank you for your kind words Michelle.
Michelle sent me that article first, asking me to okay it for the blog. I put off reading it for a couple of weeks… she patiently waited. Several times I added it to my daily list, “Read Michelle’s article,” but somehow I could not get to it. So one day I thought, “What is keeping me from doing this simple task?” I asked God to help me know what was going on. I immediately realized that I was afraid to read it. I knew it said some nice things about me, and I just couldn’t read them. (I have to keep thinking about this problem now… asking God to help me sort this out and learn from it). Then, I certainly didn’t want any of you ladies reading those things about me. That seemed very self-serving. So I asked Brian what he thought, and he said, “If Michelle wants to write that you need to print it.” So I gave the okay.
So now, this is a perfect situation to write to you my thoughts about me!
I am so thankful for the vast understanding that is available to us to learn about ourselves. Self-knowledge is so important. The last few years I have been learning so much about how God made me, why I do what I do, what my preferences are, and what I need to thrive. Understanding my strengths and weaknesses help me live intentionally and much more joyfully!
Why would I want to join this church? What makes Hope different? What is Hope Community all about? Sometimes, these are the kinds of questions visitors ask me.
“Hope is a beacon.” Very recently someone said that to me. I wish I could remember who it was but it has stuck with me. It reminds me of our church tower. And I woke up this morning with a picture and an encouraging message from God. I saw a lighthouse, with a big huge beacon that pointed the way to safety. Hope is a beacon!
What is up with this woman? She attracts people like bugs to a night light. Like skeeters to a sweaty brow. Like bees to a flower bed. People just love her. That is all there is too it. She loves them too. And they know it.
Describe her? Cheerful. Fun loving. Quick to laugh. Attentive. She freely gives everyone and everything her attention. And we often surround her. Watch her sometime. After the church service watch the steady stream of people that approach her. See the body language? Her touches hugs and kisses flow out and come back toward her. She flows.
I snapped this sequence of photos at the Women’s Encounter. Not high quality photos here folks- but you get the idea.
Where do we find our acceptance? Our natural propensity is to look to the people around us for acceptance. And if other people think we are okay, then maybe we can accept ourselves. And if we can find a way to accept ourselves, then maybe somehow God might accept us.
Let me ask you this. How’s that working out for you?
This world is not very accepting.
More than one out of every four (28%) students in grade 6-12 report being bullied
30% of young people admit to bullying others in surveys (stopbullying.gov)
Emily Dickinson wrote:
“I’m nobody! Who are you? Are you nobody, too? Then there ’s a pair of us—don’t tell! They ’d banish us, you know.
How dreary to be somebody! How public, like a frog To tell your name the livelong day To an admiring bog!”
So this model doesn’t work. Now let’s turn it on its head.
If we find our acceptance in who God says we are, then we can begin to accept ourselves. And if we can accept ourselves then being accepted by others becomes less important.
I think we already know this in our heads, but how do we live it? The answer comes from knowing who we really are. But first we need to get to the heart of who we think we are.
Recently, I was listening to a podcast and the host shared a question she had asked herself. It simply cut right to my heart. Questions are powerful. The question was:
It was a beautiful and sunny, Monday afternoon, June 25, 2018. I’d stopped at Goodwill to look in my favorite department, kitchen wares. I thought I’d heard my cellphone ring in my purse. I pulled it out and quickly saw that the call was from a 715-area code. Oh, another salesperson, I thought. I let it ring. Then, for some unknown reason, I thought I would call that number back. As it was ringing, I remembered that I’d texted my sister, Suzy, to see if she was back in the states from Japan. Remembering her area code at their lake home in Wisconsin was 715, I expected to hear her friendly voice. Instead it was her husband, who conveyed the unbelievable words, “I took Sue to emergency today and she has a brain tumor.” For a second I thought he couldn’t mean what I’d heard. But as he gave me more details, I had to believe he wasn’t playing some kind of sick joke. He was trying to decide which hospital they should take her to. I pushed my empty shopping cart back, went to my car and drove home in a fog. My younger sister! Brain tumor!
“Where have you been?” “I forgot what you look like.” “Love you, miss you.”These are the messages that landed in my inbox. Yes. I was out the loop at church for a while.
At some point after the holidays I just got tired. Tired of noise, clutter, and people. Tired of putting energy into projects that seemed to be going nowhere. Tired of fulfilling obligations that left me frustrated, sad or simply exhausted. Not usual for the winter months. Predictable. Happens every year right? But this time felt different. A stirring in my heart and mind distracted me. Not only was I tired, I was unsettled.
Understandably, many people fly off to warm places for rest and relaxation during the winter months. Finances being what they are, that was not an option for me, and really, that was okay. I longed for a break from the usual routine, but I needed to go deeper than a weekend retreat. Deeper than a two-week vacation. No. This was bigger. God style bigger. And so, I asked Him, “What is this about? Where am I? Where am I going?” And essentially, he answered, “Yes.” (Okay, um, thanks? Not much to go on there God.)