learning to trust

rappel

It’s that time again – the end of one year and the beginning of another.

In some ways it feels surreal. Nothing very grandiose actually happens during the night of December 31, other than a big party in New York and a small family party with fireworks, games, and too much food. Nothing super special. The sun goes down, I sleep – albeit not many hours – in the same bed, and I wake up to the same house, with the same family, friends, work and life that I had when I when the day before ended.

On the other hand, a new year is a big deal. A calendar milestone. A chronological capstone. A time for reflection, evaluation, and a fresh start with new goals, focus, and intentionality. 

I do not stop to review my life very often, so I am grateful for the reminders at this time of year. And I am grateful for the opportunity to refresh my perspective and consider how I want to live my 2016.

In the years past, I have chosen one word for each year – an attempt to encourage myself to think, speak, and act with a particular heart attitude. I have chosen words like empower, fulfill, courage, and authentic, but this year I am choosing TRUST.

There are a lot of big challenges and struggles bombarding my family and friends. I can tend to worry, and get frustrated or tense or discouraged. Sometimes I feel helpless and without hope.

I want to choose to believe in God’s goodness and His love and His power to resolve, restore, and redeem these difficult consequences instead.

I want to TRUST Him.

I may be choosing my most faith-stretching word so far. It goes against my natural desires to fix the problem myself… and fix it fast. It goes against my anger and fear and impatience when the problems drag on or get worse before they get better.

Most of my natural tendencies do not help the situation or the person I care about. I can bring a lot more power to a situation with prayer and a peaceful attitude. So that is my One Word for 2016 – TRUST.

Feel free to ask me how I am doing with it as the days and weeks go by. 🙂 I’ll need your encouragement.

What word are you choosing for 2016? 

facing our fears

fear What do you fear?

I don’t know about you, but fear has become much more prevalent topic these days than I would like. Terrorism, prejudice-based killings, violent home break-ins, unstable economies, future leader elections, terminal diseases… all invade our media channels and sometimes our personal lives.

My daughter’s university has had two bomb scares in the last few weeks. How can I help her deal with the unavoidable worry and concern that accompanies her days and haunts her nights?

How can I admit my fears but not let them control me?

I know that there are basic common sense choices I can implement – stay away from obvious dangerous surroundings, set up safety precautions, save money and invest wisely, make informed decisions, and proactively protect my health.

However, those actions will never completely protect me from the evil, brokenness, and pain of this world.

That reality causes fear. But fear, rather than control me, can offer an opportunity for reflection, a chance to consider the worst case scenario… what if I am going to die tomorrow? Am I ready?

Am I at peace with my present? 

Am I living each day to the fullest? Or would I have regrets if it were to all end tomorrow? Do I let petty issues make me angry, frustrated, discouraged? Do I have unresolved conflict with someone I love? Have I followed my dreams, given my all, lived by my priorities? Have I spoken my appreciation? Have I hugged and laughed and cried?

Am I at peace with my future? 

Do I know where I will go when I die? Am I certain or doubtful?  Am I still trying to earn my way to heaven? Does the thought of life’s end give me hope or dread? Do I avoid thinking about that topic altogether? Am I at peace with God?

peace-heart

If I don’t have peace with both my present and my future, what do I need to change? What do I need to do differently with my life?

Once I have it, no person, place, or philosophy can rob me of that peace.

How do you get past your fears? How do you find peace?


Here’s a good article about Peace of Mind in an Unstable World.

power in forgiveness

IMGP8357 (2)
What is it about forgiveness? 

What is it that makes forgiveness so hard to ask for, so hard to give, and so life-changing when it happens authentically?

In my memories, my parents fought through all of my childhood. Different personalities, life and work pressures, insecurities and immaturities all added to the fire, and alcoholism added fuel. Eventually, they divorced after 25 years of marriage. It was not pretty. It was not amicable.

For almost 30 years they have lived in the same city, but never saw each other. At first, we could not even mention my mom’s name in front of my dad. We arranged every holiday and every family event around which parent we would visit when, or which one of them would be invited to attend. It could never be both of them at the same time. They will never know how many hours of planning, debate, maneuvering, and heart anguish accompanied each special occasion through the years.

This Thanksgiving, something amazing happened. My parents agreed – for the first time in almost 30 years – to give thanks…. together. The death of a spouse, terminal cancer, and many years passing finally cleared the way for reconciliation, acceptance, forgiveness, and peace.

There were a few uncertain and awkward moments (mostly by the siblings who were orchestrating the event), but all in all, it was one of the most significant and inspiring holidays that I can remember.

It was a powerful, healing moment for everyone – even the grandchildren – to watch my parents greet each other at the front door… both very frail, very tired, and finally… very at peace.

Neither could eat very much, but the meal was sacred. They did not talk of anything substantial – dementia has stolen that opportunity – but their interaction was deeply meaningful to all who were there.

My parents’ reunion after all these years does not change much at this point in time… and it changes everything.

Their willing hearts were a testimony to hope.

My family watched the life-end desire for peace overcome long-guarded anger and separation. We experienced genuine humility vanquish pride, regret, and deep pain. stubbornness lost to prayer, patience, and perseverance over time.

There is a new freedom in our lives – and in our children’s lives. A freedom won by broken lives restored and divided families reunited. A freedom earned by barriers torn down and destroyed. A freedom gained by letting go of bitterness and grabbing on to forgiveness. A freedom that carries a belief in the impossible, because we saw it happen with our own eyes.

Forgiveness is powerful.

Is there someone you need to forgive today? You don’t have to wait.

rest is a four letter word

bedroom I grew up with a hard-driving military father. We had jobs to do in the house, yard, garden, or apple orchard. Five children meant there was always plenty of work to do. My dad liked sports and outdoor activities, so we often woke up early to go hiking or skiing or play tennis. The only time we could lay around on the couch or watch TV was if we were sick – really sick.

It is no wonder that I continue to work hard today and have often felt guilty about rest. I’m not busy with yard work or gardening or housework these days, but I enjoy my job, and I like to stay active. I don’t particularly like to sleep, and I rarely watch any television… but I am learning how to rest.

Rest is not just sleep or no physical activity, although it certainly can involve that. Dictionaries say that rest includes relaxation, refreshment, and recovering strength. One definition includes a peace of mind or spirit and to be free from anxiety or disturbance. Another definition mentions a period or interval of repose, solitude, or tranquillity

No matter how much we love what we do, or how much work we think we have to do, rest is powerful… and necessary. I read a good post by Michael Hyatt this week about rest, and it helped me reflect on some good reasons for rest:

Rest builds physical strength. Athletes and trainers know that after a challenging workout, the body needs rest to recover, prevent injuries and increase endurance. Sleep, stretching, hydration and nutrition are all important. As I get older, I recognize this more and more.

Rest deepens relationships. Relaxing times with family and friends give me time for full engagement and quality interaction. Play, long conversations, stories, and laughter help me feel refreshed and provide me with healthy connections and community. When I am well rested, I have more to offer others.

Rest invigorates the mind. If I go too long without rest for my mind, my brain feels like scrambled eggs, and I struggle to sort out my thoughts and feelings. When I get away from the daily “to-do” list and anxieties to daydream and let my mind wander, I find that I can think clearly about the less urgent but very important issues like future plans, past reflections, and creativity.

Rest rejuvenates the soul. According to the Bible, even God rested! 🙂 To “let go” of my responsibilities for a bit reminds me of the truth that I am not all-important. Time to breathe deeply, pray, and listen calmly encourages me to find right perspective and contentment.

Rest is often used as a noun for a support, like an arm rest or a chin rest. This reminds me that I often need other people to help me rest. I am so grateful for those in my life who rest well, and they encourage me to rest also.

Well, now that I have this post finished, I am off to rest while watching a World Cup game!

Do you struggle with taking time to rest? Or are you someone who helps other people get away to relax? What are some of your favorite ways to rest well?

____

You might also like to read: a rhythm of rest

life and death

Nothing like death to make me think about life. It is so easy to run from one thing to another without reflection… until running is no longer an option… until there are no options at all… until life is done and there is suddenly all kinds of quiet, emptiness, solitude, and time to think. Too much time. Not enough time.

My husband’s mom passed away last week. We had just spent a wonderful week as a family with her and all his relatives – something we don’t get to do but every five to ten years. His mom looked good; she was apparently winning the ugly cancer fight; we enjoyed precious time together… and then two days later she was gone. An unexpected aneurysm leak took her life in just a few hours.

“Nanny” was a sweet lady – I felt very loved by her. I am struggling with how life, vacation gatherings, and family communication will change without her. She had a warm, inviting, accepting character that attracted people instantly and bonded them to her life-long. (please see my husband’s tribute to her) She entered eternity with a grace, calm and peace that I hope to have…

I am so grateful for the relationship we had with “Nanny”. Although we lived at great geographical distance all of our married life, we worked hard to stay close. Phone calls, cards and letters (past), Facebook (present), and vacation get-togethers allowed my children to really know and love Nanny. Sometimes it required extra expense or a very long drive, but it was so worth the effort. I do not regret investing during her lifetime, and we have no regrets at her death.

I wonder if I can say that about all of my relationships? Am I investing today, so that if they were gone tomorrow I would have no regrets? Have I made the effort? Have I told them I love them? Have I reconciled our conflicts? Have I given them my time, my energy, my focused attention? Is there anything still undone… anything that I need to say?

Life is so fragile and uncertain. Death comes without warning. I don’t want death to catch me unprepared. I want to be ready.

Are you ready? If death visits you or a loved one tomorrow… what do you need to do today?