lessons from a wreck

accidentSomeone hit our car last night. It’s the second time in a few weeks that the poor car is in the shop for repairs through no fault of our own. Bummer.

On the other hand, I am so very grateful that there were no serious injuries, and we have a great insurance company that is taking care of the details. A few inconveniences and hours lost, but it could have been so much worse.

After the adrenaline coursed through my veins, I had opportunity for reflection and perspective since my life was (literally) shaken up a bit that night.

First, one more reminder of the frailty of life. My mom’s cancer is a frequent reminder, but this hit even closer to home. My husband and I are finally in the process of renewing our will. We are not going to put that off. We want to prepare to make the process easier for our family… just in case. (How about you? Do you have your will and important papers in order?)

Second, friends make a big difference. We were on our way to dinner when the wreck occurred. Instead, our friends came to join us on the side of the road for the four-hour mostly-waiting-around process. Their presence and companionship was soothing, entertaining 🙂 and encouraging. We are so grateful for them and their gift of time.

Young kids can act foolish. Two young men racing down the road by our house caused the accident. They lost control, hit each other, ricocheted into us, and skidded into a grass median yards ahead. One car totaled; the other banged up, and they stumbled out of the cars laughing. They are not the car owners; they probably do not think about the inconvenience, the increased insurance rates, the diminished vehicle values, the possible harm they could have caused. Someday they will.

Family is important. Ten or more vehicles arrived over time to check on the guys and offer concern, care, and community. There may have been frustration or anger too; we didn’t see that. It was good to see the support that rallied for the young men. They made a mistake, but they have a better chance to learn from it when people care about them.

Forgiveness is key… even for little things. My emotions swung first from concern for the young men to frustration with their apparent lack of concern. I could have let that frustration simmer into a distrust of all “young people” for their immaturity and foolish choices. But that would serve no purpose. Plus, it would be unjust, since there are many young people who are careful drivers, responsible, and making choices to better our world every day. I’d rather focus my emotional energy there.

Have you been in an accident? How did you respond? What have you learned from that experience?

celebrate life

mom bdayHave you ever wanted to ignore a birthday? Or downplay the attention to yourself? Ever wanted to go into denial about getting older? I have. For a good number of years, I would have just skipped over my birthday without any fan fare at all.

I think differently now. I have come to realize that not many people get to celebrate as many birthdays as I have. I have known too many young people who had too few years on this earth. I have cried too many tears and questioned too often “why????” when a life was cut short.

When I was younger, I didn’t think much about death. I felt invincible, and life was full of promise and opportunities. Today, I am much more aware of the fraility and brevity of life. I long for more time with my mom who has terminal cancer, and I grieve the empty places in my life where other loved ones once lived.

flowersSo… I am learning to celebrate more! Each year – each day – is worthy of a celebration. Not to put more focus on the person, but to express gratitude and understanding of the value of life. I do not want to waste the opportunity to make a memory with my family or cherish time with a friend or enjoy the little special treats that life brings to me (like the cheerful flowers my awesome husband brought in now – just because…).

I may not have that opportunity tomorrow… but I have it today!

My mom just celebrated another birthday. I am so very grateful for that special day and for each additional day of life she can enjoy. Her life is a continual reminder to me to live each day to the fullest… and to celebrate life!

How do you feel about birthdays? How do you celebrate life?

the whole package

open boxI’ve had some physical challenges lately, and as a result…some emotional challenges, and as a result… some relationship challenges.

It appears that I am entering a new stage of life… and I do not like it a whole lot.

I have always been a high energy and a high performance person. I have a good quantity of self confidence and intelligence, and ability to set my mind to something and make it happen. Or so I like to think.

In my deep inner being, I know I am not really in control of much of anything in my life. I just like to act like I am. Until…things begin to happen in my life that I – very obviously – cannot control. Today it is health related, but other times it can be people related, or work, or money, or any other issue.

And, I don’t like it.

When I cannot control something or someone like I want to, it exposes the “real” me… to myself and to others. It exposes my impatience, my critical spirit, my frustration, and my irritation levels that I would prefer to keep carefully guarded and hidden from the public eye.

I like to appear “all together”. I like to be optimistic and always with a desire to help out a friend… not moody, grumpy, tired, and pretty much disinterested in others’ problems like I feel these days.

I am sure this stage will pass eventually, and I will feel like “myself” again. However, it has been a good reminder that my true self is actually a mixture of many facets – positive and negative, good and bad, pretty and pretty ugly. Those who know me well already know that truth about me. Sometimes, others unexpectedly get a glimpse of my not-so-well-hidden self.

This life stage has also been a good reminder that my friends, co-workers, and family are also a mixed up mess of moods and attitudes and energy levels. I get them on good days and bad days. Ups and downs. Fun and not so fun. The whole package. The parts I love, the parts I tolerate, and the parts I would rather not experience.

Just as they do with me. We are a whole package. We have much to offer some days. We have a lot of needs on other days. We are made to live in community in a rhythm of giving and recieving. May God help me to embrace the whole package and give others the same acceptance and grace and love that I have been receiving these days.

What do you do when you do not feel like your best you? How do you respond to others on their difficult days/weeks/months/years?

so grateful for…

sunrise Nicholas Tarling freedigitalphotos.netI woke up too early this morning. I was (more than) a bit grumpy since I really didn’t want to be alert at that hour, but almost immediately some special people came to my mind, and I decided to take advantage of the peaceful quiet to pray for them.

The minutes began to add up as more and more people filled my groggy thoughts, and my grumpiness began to convert into gratitude. I have many wonderful people in my life. They are kind and brave and fun and generous. I began to make a list; I am proud of so many of them…

My mom – Although I know she was afraid of the cancer diagnosis and almost ready to die because of the pain, she chose bravely to undergo the surgery and the chemo treatments. She is making the most of her good days with friends and family, often doing favors for others. It isn’t always easy, but she is strong and an encouragement to me.

My husband – He has traveled to take care of his dad this week; I know it is hard for him there. It is discouraging to experience his dad depressed and weak and sad, a shadow of the man he used to be… Despite the challenges, my husband is sacrificially serving his dad  – cleaning, cooking and being a companion. I miss him when he’s gone, but I am glad he is there with his dad.

My family – In my family and my husband’s family, there are others who do the major share of the care for our elderly parents. While we may fill in from time to time, they are present or on call almost every day. I am impressed by their willing hearts and their attention to innumerable details. I know it is frustrating and exhausting at times. They are my heroes.

My children – I am really proud of my children. They are each one very unique and gifted in so many ways. They are also imperfect and have all kinds of normal challenges and problems, but I love the adults they are becoming. I especially like that they love me too.

My friends – Both those from the past and my new friends from this year have added much joy to my life. I am inspired by their faith and their desire to grow and their determination to keep moving forward. Some of them have had to overcome some very difficult trials and hurts, but I see them committed to healing and wholeness and finding the strength to help others. I have received abundantly from their generous lives, and I am grateful for each one of them.

I never did get back to sleep… my list continued on and on, and I eventually realized it was a very blessed life I was waking up to meet. Not a bad way to start the day.

Who is on your grateful list? Who makes you proud?