Thursday, December 26, 2013

Love

"If you are silent, be silent out of love. If you speak, speak out of love." ~ St. Augustine

Monday, December 23, 2013

What goes around, comes around.



Every year we make the effort to don santa hats, pull out rumpled sheets of music, and make the rounds to the local shut-ins, group homes and nursing homes: caroling in our off key voices, loud and happy.  We always bring the babies and honestly my favorite part is watching the faces of the elderly light up as they see the children smiling.  "Oooh!  Look at that one!" "She's so cute!"

Today we handed out sheets so the little old men and women sitting in their wheelchairs could join in.  The 2 and 3 year old walked beside me as we gave music to each person, delighting each of the residents whether they could read or not.  After singing and chatting, the kids helped me collect them again.  Some of the elderly were demented and one woman did not want to give her paper back.  Jay, the 2 year old, put his hand on her paper and uttered something unintelligible.  The woman pulled the paper back and said in all seriousness, "You just took that woman's paper!" indicating the woman sitting next to her, "Why do you need mine?"  The 9 year old sister stepped in and told her 2 year old brother with a cheery and happy voice, "It's okay Jay, she can keep it.  We have lots more."

At the next place the woman we sang to was a parishioner at our church that we knew before she lost her memory.  The kids can remember her making cookies for them when we would sing to her but now she can't even remember her own name.  She cried as we sang and then said how sad she was she couldn't prepare something for us.  Her smile came out when we told her how many times she had welcomed us and given us treats in the past and how much we wanted to sing for just her.  I think at any stage in life it is amazingly special to have people come and want to see just you.

When I was a teenager my family "adopted" a little old brother and sister in their nineties.  We started by just visiting to give them company and by the end of our friendship we were their caregivers, in charge of all their medical and financial business.  Their lives impacted mine greatly because for the first time in my life I was exposed to aging and death so close together.  As each reached the point of death, I saw how gracefully they went into the after life, especially Phillip who died surrounded by priests and non-family caregivers who loved him dearly.  Neither ever married.  Phillip had been outside of the country only once, and that was overseas during World War II.  Imelda had left the state only once in her lifetime and that was as a girl to see the World's Fair.  Even though these two had no children, I saw how God provided a family to love them in the very end when they no longer could rely on each other.

After Phillip died a friend of his came up to us at the funeral to tell us how Phillip had sat with others at their deathbeds, others who had no families.  It filled me with warmth to hear this and I couldn't help but feel that we were in someway being used by God to give Phillip what he had given others: love at the very end.  And that's how I feel when we go to the shut-ins, the sick and elderly in their homes, that someday that will be us and we will be blessed by the people who make the effort to see us.  And even if it is once a year and it is only a handful of Christmas carols, I think I will like it very much.


Sunday, December 22, 2013

Anticipating Christmas

Scripture: Luke 1:39-45
39 In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a city of Judah, 40 and she entered the house of Zechari'ah and greeted Elizabeth. 41 And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit 42 and she exclaimed with a loud cry, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For behold, when the voice of your greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leaped for joy. 45 And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her from the Lord."

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Snowy days and Christmas Preparation



I love the snow!  The world blanketed in white, the complexity of a single snowflake, how clean it looks and how quiet the outdoor world becomes.  And today as we receive our third accumulative snow of the year, I am also grateful not to be scheduled to work.  Normally a day like today would make no difference, I would be still be shoveling myself out and heading in.

My options, if I was really concerned about driving in the snow, would be to go in the night before and sleep at work or ummm drive in it.  One of my co-workers tried not going in for the last major snow storm we had and someone in a tank (slight exaggeration) went and got him.  Last year I remember driving home during Hurricane Sandy, the highway completely empty except for me and the rescue workers.  Oh and the hurricane.  So, as you see…not going in: not an option.



But today I have no where to be.  No where at all!  Such a lovely feeling and somehow the snow is that much prettier.  I have all sorts of plans!  I am going to make gingerbread for my neighbors, candy Santa sleighs for my co-workers, do a little cleaning and watch a Christmas movie.  I'll even get on the treadmill...last resort…normally I would go out and run even in the snow!  But with the wintry mix we had earlier this week everything is scarily icy underneath!

And I'm grateful for perfect timing.  Tomorrow is Christmas shopping with my friends' girls.  Yesterday was cookie decorating with almost all the nieces and nephews and then we sang Christmas carols all the way home (my voice is still hoarse this morning!)…love the memories and love the times spent together.  And absolutely LOVE that today there is nothing planned but to stay home and be snowed in.  :o)

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Something beautiful


Something beautiful something amazing!  Saw my friend hear for the first time today!!  So beautiful and amazing!!  I wanted to cry but in the end I could only laugh…she was so funny!  The first words she heard were her husband saying, "I love you" and after a pause she burst out laughing, saying "you sound like Mickey Mouse!"  God is so good and He continues to show us.



Today I walked the coast with one of my dogs.  The sun was close enough to the water that it trailed straight toward me.  Everywhere I went I thought, the sun is following me…it is coming straight toward me.  And then I realized what a great parallel this is to my life.  Everywhere I go, the Son is coming straight toward me.  He is not only willing but going out of His way to meet me where ever I am.  I went through such a close time with Him over the past year that now I feel almost abandoned.  But after meeting the sunlight on the beach, I am reminded that He is meeting me, right where I am, right here, right now.

Friday, December 6, 2013

The World is Large



The world is huge! And there are so many things to see!  Today I happened upon weather.com while browsing for information about the upcoming storm.  One link led to another and pretty soon I was reading about the 33 most dangerous places to visit, frozen lighthouses, and 40 things to do before you die.  The list included things like hiking the Appalachian Trail, running the New York City marathon and swimming the English Channel.  Not exactly a bucket list, but it did name amazing things that human beings can accomplish!

Then I thought about how many people don't have any of those expectations and still live pretty amazing lives.  Couples married for 60 years.  Grandparents who watched multiple grandchildren and great-grandchildren enter the world, all because two people came together.  Mothers who watch their sons go off to war.  Dads who walk their daughters down the aisle.  Children who care for their parents on their deathbeds.  First word, first step, first kiss…

Going to have to rethink my "best" list now.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Holding-pattern


I often feel that I am in a holding pattern.  I do not know where God is leading me.  I have seen and done some pretty amazing things in my life and have been so blessed!  With a beautiful family, genuine friends, and many creature comforts I have much to be thankful for!  And I know my final destination is heaven but in the sense of a vocation…I do not know.

This past Saturday I ran and completed my first (and as far as I have planned, ONLY!) marathon (insert trumpets blaring).  Such an amazing feeling of accomplishment!  So much hard work.  Time devoted, early rising, events missed or rearranged to allow time to train.  And not to mention the fears a recent injury caused me!  But when it is all said and done, even discounting the aches and pains experienced during and after the race, it was worth it.  There is no let down.  No feeling of, "now what?"  Rather I feel happy with myself and perfectly content to go back to half marathons or 5k races…whatever comes.  It is a moment I am grateful to have been given and feel no need to relive.

I like this feeling.  I don't like to finish something only to feel empty, to feel "Is this all there is?" or "That was it?"  Too often accomplishments in life lead to that feeling.  I have had it before.  That feeling of "What next?"  Almost a lost, directionless sensation…one that can lead to depression or despair.  When I finished grad school and landed a great job in a fast-paced environment I felt that way.  I wondered what was next.  What if this was it?

But the more I thought and prayed, the more I began to wonder, "What if this is not all He wills?  Does God work in restlessness?"  The desire for something more…if I was content with the little I was given, would I continue to reach out to others?  To reach out to God?  Is it wrong to want more than what we have been given?  No, this cannot be true.  Otherwise why would Jesus tell us to ask God for good things?

Which leads me to think that it isn't in wanting but rather in what we want.  When I look at this desire I find myself asking, will it only lead me to another round of discontent?  Am I willing to accept with a peaceful heart if this prayer is not directly answered?  If God never answers this prayer, if He never fulfills this desire, can I be happy?

Honestly I have come to the conclusion that I can only wait and trust God.  Hence, the holding pattern. And since I'm trusting, I have to have absolute faith that He knows exactly what He is doing.  That this is exactly where God wants me and that He won't let someone who is searching for His will go astray.