Walking Thoughts

Sometimes, a walk answers the questions. Sometimes all it seems to take is a few moments in nature to still your mind and heart.

When I am a mess of emotions and need to process everything I am feeling, I usually do one of two things…Walk/run or write.
February weather has been amazing in my corner of the world, so I have been walking a lot. It is so great to see neighbors who have been cooped up inside out and about, too.

Last night as my feet hit the pavement during a run, I relished the freedom to be lost in my world. 
My life is sprinkled with uncertainty right now. I definitely have made strides in my anxiety journey. I am not stressing over all the what ifs, but rather just praying and hanging along for the ride. God has placed some amazing supportive people in my path. I am certainly not alone.

Sometimes, though, being alone surrounded by God’s creation is exactly what I need to remind me that I am not alone on my journey. For me, walking or running and writing are my moments of comfort and strength.

What brings you comfort and strength?

Pondering the Season

One week until Christmas. 

Is your shopping done? Cookies baked? Wrapping completed? Parties to attend yet?

In the hustle and bustle of the season, it can become so easy to get wrapped up in all the “stuff”that needs done. As I scrolled through my Facebook feed today, I saw a post that included photos of a friend’s children and every single gift they had opened for an early Christmas. These were extravagant presents, and I found something in myself feeling a little…Gee, my kids aren’t getting that much.

There is nothing with presents, cookies, parties, or decorations. The issue with Christmas is that it can become so easy to lose our focus on what matters.

My pastor preached about ordinary people this morning. He quoted Abraham Lincoln…”God must love the common man, He made so many of them.” It was a great reminder that all of us are struggling one way or another in life at some time or another. It reminds me that my kids aren’t going to remember the gifts they received years from now, but they will remember the traditions and time we spent together, the laughter we shared, and the memories we have made.

One of my favorite verses this time of year is…Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. Luke 2:19

To ponder is to think carefully, reflect, contemplate. To ponder is to intentionally pause and reflect. With everything going on in Mary’s young life surrounding the birth of Jesus, she certainly had a lot to ponder. I visualize her quietly reflecting and praying. 

That single verse is such a powerful reminder to me of the importance to be still and reflective this time of year. In the hustle and bustle of the season, stopping to ponder on God’s grace and peace helps me keep my eyes on the true meaning of the season.

Take a moment to pause and ponder the greatest gift of the season…The birth of a Savior.

Lessons from Children 

Thirteen. My youngest officially crossed the threshold into his teenage years yesterday. Wow. Where has time gone? It seems like just yesterday we were in the Filipino heat at his orphanage eagerly waiting to meet him for the first time.

The other day, one of my co-workers was talking about her children and wishing they were little again. Not me. It’s not that I don’t have moments that I don’t miss the excitement over zoo trips, a sweaty little hand in mine as we cross the street, or cuddling while watching Disney movies because believe me, I do. Yet, I find it so exciting and humbling witnessing my children growing into their own individual person.

Our son was a quiet child, unsure of himself and his place in the world just a few years ago. Now, he is thriving academically and socially. He loves his family. He made the decision to be baptized last summer.

At school conferences this past week, one of his teachers said that our son is teaching him to be a better teacher. It was humbling to hear about our son in the classroom – his interaction with others, his sharing about his adoption, his teachers’ beliefs in his potential. 

Children are such a gift. Whether they are biological or adopted, students, neighborhood children…they are a gift. They need adults who love them and believe in them. I am grateful for the teachers and close adult friends who are positively shaping the lives of my children.

 I am so grateful to a God who did not say no to my prayerful pleas for a baby years ago but rather Wait, I have something far better planned for your family.

My children keep me grounded and focused on what truly matters in this life. 

While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about.  Angela Schwindt

Sometimes, life is messy, but if we keep our eyes focused on God, He helps us keep our focus on what matters most. Even on the messy days.

31 Days of Gratitude: Promises 

Yesterday morning as I prayed during my hour long commute to work, my heart was heavy. God has been speaking to me about my Christian life walk not being about my performance. 

So much of my life I have been driven to”perform”… all As in school, in my job, in aspects of my life at home…

Yes, faith needs action connected to it, but we do not need to “perform” and prove anything. We are called to serve.

Work willingly at whatever you do as though you were working for the Lord and not for people. Colossians 3:23 

Working for the Lord is serving. When the focus shifts from working for the Lord instead of people, it removes the pressure to people please through our performance.

As I prayed through these reflections yesterday morning, I sensed that it was not going to be an easy morning. 

I exited off the highway towards work and witnessed a moment of awe. I saw a sliver of a bright rainbow. 

God’s promise…the beauty of a rainbow.

It wasn’t raining. The sun was still rising. It was as though He was whispering… I am with you and will walk this journey with you. 

I pulled into the parking lot at work. Not only was a huge rainbow painted across the sky, but the glimmer of a double rainbow as well.

I snapped a picture and headed into work with the hope of His promise. 

It was a very difficult morning, but I sensed God’s presence in the heart of it all.

God never promises our life will be easy, but He does promise to walk the journey with us. 

I am very thankful that I do not have to walk alone. I am grateful for His promise to join me.

Friday Reflections 

Every Friday, I find myself asking the same question….How did we get here so quickly??

The weeks seem to fly by, and I want to shout Slow Down!!!! but life keeps happening. 

For me, and I am guessing I am not alone in this, it is so easy to get caught up in the busy stuff of life and forget to take time to rest, reflect…even breathe some days. It has been a week like that.

Yesterday, as I sat in my office, I listened to the soothing voice of one of our maintenance men as he took a break from job duties to play guitar and sing old songs and hymns to the residents. I feel so blessed to work in a faith based organization where I can hear How Great Thou Art being sang in the middle of the morning.

It was as though God was whispering to me as a gentle reminder that all will be OK in the busy, crazy hustle and bustle of life, when I am tired and don’t feel well…He is there amidst all of it.

I suppose some of my restlessness comes from years of walking alongside people in their final years, months, and days. I have heard so many stories of amazing lives and witnessed seemingly simple everyday things that matter. I have also heard some sad stories of dreams never fulfilled, tragedies, and broken families. 

I want to learn from the stories of these elders. I want to embrace the things that truly matter in life. 

I thought I would share a few lessons I have learned from working with older adults…(in no particular order)…

1. Do more listening than talking. Everyone has a story and everyone longs to be heard and to know their life somehow matters and has somehow made a difference in this world 

2. Focus more on relationships than stuff. Almost everyone needs a hug or at least a smile that says…I care.

3. Collect memories rather than stuff. 

4. Make each moment matter…live life to the fullest… don’t sweat the small stuff.

5. Forgive people. Bitterness and resentment only hurt you.

6. Live within your means. Have an emergency fund.

7. A few words of wisdom from Babe Ruth… Don’t let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game. Live life without fear.

8. Faith is important. Having a relationship with God is important. Take your kids to church.

9. Good music has words you can actually understand. 😉

10. A cup of coffee or tea with a good friend can cure most anything.

11. Age is just a number.

12. A good old fashioned game of checkers or Scrabble is great fun.

13. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Never quit laughing. From George Bernard Shaw…you don’t stop laughing when you grow old, you grow old when you stop laughing.

Happy Friday!!! Take a moment to slow down and breathe. 

Give your burdens to the Lord, and He will take care of you. Psalm 55:22

The Heart of All that matters…

Sometimes, I feel like a thirty-some year old living with the mindset of someone much older. I don’t care much for material stuff. I am more interested in relationships with others than the car I drive and the balance in my checking.

Don’t get me wrong… I love to travel, love a good meal out, and worry about my money at times but I generally tend to focus on the simple things.

I was talking through some of this with a friend and she said a lot of this probably has to do with my daily life perspective in working with older adults in long term care.

Everyday, I am honored to spend time with those at the ends of their lives. Their life possessions have been downsized to a small room or half of a room. “Stuff” no longer matters. 

What is so, so universal despite differing financial backgrounds… people want to be heard, to know their life still has value and purpose.

Relationships matter. 

Life can be pretty lonely when you have no one to share in it with….no one to cry with, to dream with, to laugh with, to share a cup of coffee with, to pray with… 

It makes me so sad when I hear bitterness in people’s voices towards family members and friends. I have witnessed daughters refuse to say goodbye to their dying mother because of years of estranged relationships.

That just strikes me as so sad. I never, ever judge family situations, but those type of situations just make me sad.

Last week, my pastor preached this sermon…some people look down in shame, some look back in regret, and others look around for someone to blame or to compare their situation to. The only way that will move us forward is by looking up. Up to Him for healing.

God can heal relationships, lonely hearts, and feelings of resentment and bitterness.

Relationships matter. And in the end, they are the only thing that matters. 

I encourage you to take some time today and let those who you love know how much they mean to you. Relationships matter. ❤

Am I comfortable…

The other day, a co-worker walked into my office and asked if I was attending the optional training session that was starting in the next few minutes.

I looked up at her.”There’s no way. I’m drowning right now.”

“Are you comfortable drowning?”

Whoa…not the response I was expecting from her.

Am I comfortable drowning?

Am I comfortable drowning???

Drowning elicits a vision of fear, of wildly waving, flailing my arms to save myself from going under. It is like one moment you find yourself in the lake, the next, swallowed under by the wake.

That vision does not suggest a positive experience.

So….am I comfortable drowning?

As I ponder this, I relate this to life…how often do we accept the status quo as okay? We accept the busy and the crazy of our lives as our reality.

So, am I okay with drowning? Am I okay with being so busy…so busy at work, so busy at home….that I don’t take time to rest.

Have I accepted the reality of being so busy, so bogged down, so overwhelmed that I am comfortable with drowning? That drowning somehow feels familiar and comforting?

I don’t have an answer to this question. 

What I do know is that I need to rest. Rest my mind. Calm my soul.

Sometimes, God can use a simple but profound, unexpected question to help us pause and reflect.

Am I comfortable with drowning?? Or am I willing to reflect and seek the calm waters…. I still believe they exist. At work. At home. In His care.