Friday was brutal. It started well and ended horribly. When one aches, we all ache. Saturday we all felt a little bruised and beaten -- and we held each other with gentleness.
It is these moments when I am so deeply grateful for the teamwork our little family employs. It is all grace. I am grateful for how we truly love each other -- and how each of us knows we are deeply loved.
I am grateful that our home is a haven -- even though it is small and sometimes messy.
I am thankful for friends who listen and pray.
I am sad for those who do not know the kind of love that we share. The love that Jesus so clearly taught us -- our Source for loving each other.
I had been looking forward to 3:00 with this joy dare, because every time there is a time gift hunt, something special happens. At 3:00 I started an intense conversation with my mom, it started snowing (again) and I had to go grocery shopping. Not what I was expecting, but still memorable time and God's blessings are always profoundly close to us.
1. I have a mom who loves me lots and her physical presence on this earth is truly a gift not to be taken for granted.
2. I didn't have an accident (like many others) in the thick, slick messy slush -- and neither did Mark.
When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”
They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.
1. I have not enjoyed coaching basketball this season. And I haven't given it my best, if I am honest. But the look on little Peyton's face today after making her shot in the game was somewhere between pride and appreciation. Made me feel as if coaching was worth it.
2. Char, who hates grocery shopping, joined the excursion today and lightened my load.
3. I read thru my journal today. I had forgotten much of the past. So thankful for God's merciful hand that has guided me thus far.
I am still writing. I am just not posting everything. :) I found this quote as I was writing today. It reminded me of this process of allowing my passion to come forth.
"To love at all
is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and
possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must
give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies
and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket of
your selfishness. But in that casket - safe, dark, motionless, airless - it
will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable,
irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy,
is damnation. The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe
from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell." -- C.S. Lewis
Today's blog is a culmination of the last 24 hours. I started writing my 500 words last night. As you will soon see, it started as a brainstorm of what I was thinking and feeling. I just couldn't find the thread to tie it all together...
There is a wave on the sand. As surely as it rolls it in, it rolls out. I can't stop it. I can only accept and embrace its rhythm. If I focus on the steady flow, it calms me. If I try to stop it, catch it or interfere in anyway, stress and frustration well within me as I chase the impossible.
Playing in the bathtub with a child. That slippery soap that pops out of your hand as soon as you squeeze. And, yet, applying no pressure leaves it lying in your hand.
The Proverbial butterfly that lands on your shoulder when you stop chasing.
I breathe in and breathe out. My mind rests and the words come. Panic blocks thinking. Resting brings insight. Sleepless nights yield unproductive days. A full night's rest sharpens the senses.
So, why do I struggle and stress over things I cannot control? Why do I strive for the impossible? Why do I yearn for those things that require a 12-16 hour day? Why do I stress when I am supposed to rest?
I read a fantastic quote today, "The things that you are passionate about are not random, they are your calling."
(The above was all written before any of what follows actually happened.)
After I put the computer to bed, I messaged my friend, Robin Stanley, on Facebook. She asked me (as I should have known she would), "How can I pray for your heart?" And, so I complained about not being passionate about my work, despite my success and my appreciation for my employer. And, she suggested (as only she could) that perhaps I was working excessively to drown out my heart cries. Yep. I think she might have something there.
She continued to say that perhaps I am a workaholic because, in fact, work has been "my survival" -- or perhaps more accurately, my escape -- for a long time. And, in fact, I am trying to escape the power of the desires that God has placed inside of me. Even more, perhaps I am driven to work out of fear. Whoa. Yep. I think she was handpicked by God, last night, to give me a swift kick in the butt.
None of this means that I am quitting my job and running off to chase my dreams. But, I don't want to be driven by fear. Rather, it is time for me listen to the passions of my heart and use them in concert with my head and God's word. It is time to be intentional about the listening and the waiting.
Today, my friend, Jon Bowers, is in a Cincinnati hospital starting some seriously intense chemotherapy for kidney cancer that has spread beyond his kidneys. In fact, right now, he is experiencing treatment 2 of 14 for the week. So, as I lift up my friend, Jon, to Jesus and ask for healing and strength, I will tell you just a little bit about him.
I met Jon's wife Nancy through the North American Christian Convention. I started working there as an intern in the summer of 1993. Nancy immediately introduced me to Jon and their three boys, Nathan, Zachary and Andrew. (I think Andrew was all of about 5 at the time, which seriously ages me as he is now married with little ones of his own. Oh my....) And, the entire Bowers family welcomed me into the their home for food (very important in my young life at the time), long walks, parental advice and sibling fun. From day one whether I was joining them for some family fun or being scolded for messing up Nancy's vaccuum marks, I was one of the family.
Jon is an extremely hardworker. A systems analyst for Procter and Gamble, it seemed that Jon would stop working long enough to hang with the family, help the boys with homework -- and as soon as the family went to bed, he was working the rest of the night. I remember Nancy telling me that Jon would be up til the wee hours of the morning, before catching a few hours of sleep and starting all over again. As I find myself with a daughter myself, I think of him often as I have adopted some of his non-sleeping habits. But, when Jon wasn't spending time with his family or working for P&G, he was donating his time to the North American staff, supporting their IT efforts any way possible.
Supporting IT efforts for the North American was no small task. The early 90s brought in windows technology, but the convention office was DOS-based. Yep. You heard me. DOS. Based. The man has a heart of gold and a work ethic like no one I know -- and he showed it every day at the North American HQ.
He also gives countless hours to the church and ministry. Jon truly loves God and God's people. When I lived in Cincinnati, I remember that he worked tirelessly as an elder offering the leadership the church desperately needed. You could see and hear the passion in his joy and frustration with trying to help the church move forward.
That same passion he surely shares with his family. One of the traits I admire most about Jon is that he has always had high expectations of his kids, but he loves and protects them fiercely. I was the happy recipient of the same "kid treatment" from Jon, even though he isn't nearly old enough to be my dad. He always was ready with some words of wisdom. But, when I got into some stressful situations at the North American he (along with Nancy) were quick to come to my defense.
I haven't talked to the boys in a really long time, but one look at Jon and you can see and hear his deep love for them. I had lunch with Nancy and Jon a few years ago, when I was still living in Florida. They have wintered in Florida for the last several years, and one Sunday they drove over to Orlando. As we were eating, we shared some of the joys and sorrows that the last 15+ years had brought. Just watching Jon share about his kids was delightful. It was fun to see the pride in his eyes.
And, now, several years later, Jon and Nancy have the most beautiful grandchildren. Each one is so fortunate to inherit all of this love and joy and passion for God and His church, and fierce protection over their lives. I certainly am blessed to know Jon and Nancy, and call them family (even though I don't call like I should)!
Today and for the next several days and weeks and months to come, I am praying for my friend, Jon Bowers. I hope you will too. I can't wait to see how God will use this day and every day to count for His glory because of the faith and love and strength that He created in Jon.
I have had the urge to really write again for awhile. I recognize that not only my grammar and spelling have fallen far off the mark -- but even my thought processes seem to have faltered. So, I am taking the 500-word, 31-day challenge for no other reason than I need a reason to just practice.
And, who knows, maybe this 31-day challenge turns into an every day sort of thing, but the truth is I need the discipline. The next discipline I need to tackle is goal setting -- and with that some time management.
Last year was quite a year. Without any real goals set, we grew closer as a family and we found a church. I wore myself out working and working out. I managed to lose 20 lbs, although it seems like it should have been more for as hard as tried. But, I will take the 20 all the same.
2014 I want more. I want to keep the growth we've made as a family. I want to lose another 20 lbs, but would take more if my body will allow it. I would like to find some friends that live closer. I would like to work smarter -- I don't think I can work any harder. I would like to work out again. I love my gym, but work has so taken over my life in the last few months, that I never seem to have time. Or, when I have the time, my body needs to rest more than it needs to work.
Bottomline, I really just want to be more intentional with my time. I want my God and my family to come long before work. And, yet, I am driven to do well at work, and I feel that I need to honor my abilities there also. Did I mention I would like to go back to school and finish my masters -- and take
one more year to entertain having a child of my own? My plate is filling fast...
I guess I really need to prioritize a bit. :) Okay, maybe I need to prioritize a lot.
Word count: 358. 142 words to go, less now, I guess. Yikes. This writing exercise makes me feel like I am in my first master's class, writing my first research paper and constantly checking the word count to see how much farther I have to go.
Today is the beginning. The beginning of challenge. The beginning of change. While it is all I can do to squeak out these last few words. At least I am squeaking. And, tomorrow, when I am at the gym for the first time in 3 months. I will be slowly doing burpees and jumping rope, so I don't pass out from exhaustion before my 30 minutes is over. But, at least I am jumping. It's a start.
1. The Greatest Gift. We are not only behind, but since Char is at her mom's half the time, we are way behind! It will probably be Easter before we finish, but we are enjoying the book as a family -- such a blessing!
2. Chuck roast for beef sandwiches to enjoy with the Packer game this afternoon.
3. The tree is down and the living room "back to normal". Thankful for a new year, a new page, a clean slate.
1. The weather in Wisconsin gets old in the winter time. But the bitter cold forces us to slow down when life gets hectic and makes us appreciate summer all the more.
2. My wedding band. :) I have a beautiful engagement ring that has been enough for me. But it was Mark who wanted to be sure the wedding band was in place. Picked it out 1/4/13. It was sized perfectly. Wore it home. Thankful for the love Mark and I share and the partnership the ring represents.
3. Char's favorite color. I have never been a blue fan, but somehow the color has invaded the home that was once mine and is now ours. :)