Fighting Detachment

The first eleven days of October have been like a wild roller-coaster ride that I wasn’t sure I could even exit. The funny thing though, in the midst of all that, I started to detach myself from the ride even though it was still going at a furious speed. I stopped caring about anything or anyone in this world and considered how much better the next one would be.

Then, I thought of this word (detachment) and its meaning and looked it up to see if the meaning matched my true feelings. There are two meanings. First, detach means to “disengage (something or part of something) and remove it.” It also means, and this definition is more important for my purposes, to “leave or separate from (a group or place).” To an extent, I feel like I’ve already done this. When I speak of the things on my heart on what has happened to our world this year, the other person generally shrugs their shoulders in a “what can you do fashion.” Precautions against Covid are the do-all and be-all of this time. Nothing else matters.

So, I stopped caring. I detached myself from poverty, from abuse, from unemployment, from mental illness, and from financial difficulties. No one else wanted to talk about or care about these deep matters of the heart even if they were experiencing them, so why should I. Covid had separated me from my friends that much.

Calling anyone has become a herculean task when I wasn’t sure they wanted my phone call and when I wasn’t even sure the friendship mattered anymore. So, I retreated into myself and considered what I wanted to figure out. Do I keep trying with my friends, with my writing, or with my family? It seems like I try, try, and try again, and it’s always bad. Always hard. Nothing comes easy right now. I try, and it’s hard when people don’t want to try back. We’ve been programmed into only caring about ourselves and not caring about anyone else. Showing God’s love has fallen out of the equation.

But, then, I look at the news, and I get angry in my detachment. People in leadership have taken advantage of the situation. They are gaining power and money at our expense, and no one cares. This includes people from both political parties. I believe they are encouraging this detachment so they will be unencumbered as they do what they want. Disgusting, right?

What do I do with this anger now? Do I keep it in a box and remain detached? Is not caring a viable option?  Do I stay away from the voting booth next month? It takes effort to care, to be the person God wants me through this crisis, and I’m not sure I have the strength. I know some people, politicians included, wish I wouldn’t vote since my voice would be silenced, and they could do whatever the hell they wanted. (Sorry for the language, but I think it applies here.) I think about these questions, and my voice sounds loudly in my mind. No! I need to use my voice, auditory, and writing. I need to use my voice because I have that freedom in this country.

An example is when I talk about frustrations with my mental illness. Mental illness is not getting the attention it needs during this pandemic. Dr. Fauci’s comments struck me when he was commenting on that topic a few weeks ago. “Hang on. We need you.” What is hanging on? Does it mean things like poverty, food insecurity, financial difficulties, mental illness, unemployment, and just plain loss don’t exist? Does it mean “every man for himself?” It seems like the second is more true. And, don’t get me wrong here. It’s not just Republicans. It’s Democrats too. We’re at a crossroads, and frankly, this time I’m not sure where we’re going after the election.

So, though, I know there is little chance of this happening, I will end with this statement. President Trump, Senator McConnell, Representative Pelosi, and every Democrat and Republican in Congress, the American people need you to look after their interests and not your own. Candidate Biden and Candidate Harris, I include you in this statement because, while you haven’t been elected, I am sure you have a modicum of influence you could use if you so chose. They need you to care about them and not yourselves – to be the statesmen and women you purport yourselves to be. If you don’t, I guess we really do deserve what we’ve unleashed upon ourselves. Prove me wrong, please.

The Frustration Jar

A bonus post this weekend because I felt…compelled.

https://images.app.goo.gl/viRFY2mqp5CErRb18

Over the past six months, it has become apparent to me that we, as a people, and especially as Christians, are not interested in hearing about other people’s frustrations. People make statements that imply dealing with this pandemic should be easy when it is anything but, and if it’s not easy, the implication is you’re not a good enough Christian.

I believe this is why we’ve started to boil over as a nation. Don’t believe me? I’ll share a few of those statements with you. “Money doesn’t matter.” It sure does when you’re about to be homeless, or you’re hungry. “You need to social distance.” I’m lonely, and I really need human contact so I won’t commit suicide. (By the way, September is Suicide Prevention Month.) “Why aren’t you wearing a mask?” I experience PTSD from having my face covered.

Here’s some more. “You need to stay home, or you’ll spread Covid.” (said by someone who can work from home) I can’t stay at home. I’m an essential worker, and I need to work. “Your business shouldn’t be open. The government says so.” If I don’t work, I won’t eat. Business owners don’t get unemployment. “You didn’t save enough money.” Did anyone expect this pandemic to last for six months and probably a lot longer? I’m not even including the fear, the racial tensions, or other illnesses in my statements though we all know they’re there.

When we don’t share our frustrations, they get put into our frustration jars. They fill them over and over until there’s no room for any more. Then, they burst either noisily or quietly. (Please understand. I don’t advocate bad behavior) But, all these frustrations need a place to go.

What are the solutions? I believe every time we listen without judging it loosens the load. I think every time we can solve a problem the level goes down, and the jar stays whole. When we show courage, we give another person courage. When we show love, people see Jesus.

Please, can we do this? Can we have the human contact necessary to survive as a species? Can we keep our jars whole so we don’t have to experience the alternative?

https://images.app.goo.gl/4cjeTGTVwBC2eG2G8

Dream Catcher vs Dream Chaser

Starting with this post, I plan on changing over to more writing-themed posts. Things have been swirling in my head on topics that might be interesting to my readership, small that it might be. 🙂 So, today’s title. What does it have to do with writing? The simple answer is it has something to do with my writing. Since last year, I’ve been working on a novel I’ve tentatively entitled Dream Catchers. During the 1960s, my main character encounters a group of aliens who help her and other marginalized people to become astronauts. It made sense as a title. I knew it was a Native American term though. I even bought one to hang on my door, but I didn’t do any other research much to my neglect.

It has become apparent over the last few days though that doing the research is important. Why? Because I saw another term as a hashtag related to the death of Chadwick Boseman last Friday. The term is dream chaser. Boseman certainly did chase his dreams during his career and his life, especially over the last four years. I saw him act in Marvel movies such as Captain America: Civil War, Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame, and particularly Black Panther which started his role as T’Challa, King of Wakanda. But, while I could wax poetic about the actor and what he meant to the world, that’s not the point of today’s post. Dream catchers and dream chasers are.

Wikipedia defines a dream catcher as this. “A handmade willow hoop, on which is woven a net or web. The dreamcatcher may also include sacred items such as certain feathers or beads. Traditionally, they are often hung over a cradle as protection.” The definition and history of the term also made it pretty clear that it had been misappropriated by others who are not of Native American culture. So, is it still good for me to use it as a title? To answer that question, I would need to decide if I wanted to do what everyone else is doing in using the title.  Also, does the title fit with the book I’m writing?  For this title though, I’m no longer sure it fits what I’m writing. That is if I want to be true to the Native American definition.

Then, there are dream chasers. According to Google, several things include the name dream chaser. A spaceplane, an album, clothing, and jewelry. Enough of a variety that I think it would be okay if there was a book entitle Dream Chasers. But, would it be appropriate for what I’m writing. Part of me lands strongly in the “yes” column because of a definition in a Medium post by Chris Coleman in 2016. “A dreamchaser is an individual with the courage to follow their heart and the belief to succeed in the path that they take.” Wow, this is exactly how I see Lily, my main character, and how I want to see myself. (Note–I need to put this quote in my quote book.)

I guess I answered my question then. The working title of my novel is now Dream Chasers. It’s a better fit.

As we move into September, I would be thrilled to take a shot at questions you have about your writing. Just let me know in the comments.

These Days Won’t Come Again

Yesterday. It was the middle of March yesterday. We were anticipating spring break and Easter. Now, it’s the end of August, and we’ve walked through spring, summer, and all the associated holidays and traditions. Now, the kids are back in school, and everything is still…different. We’re wearing masks, practicing social distancing, and fighting about it. We’ve politicized all of it and how you feel about Covid is related to your politics. I’ve shaken my head in disbelief many times.

We’ve narrowed our friend circle enough that we distrust everyone in the supermarket. But, then we’re surprised when someone reacts badly. We shouldn’t be. The media has built up fear. Now, I don’t believe this virus is a hoax, but when is it enough? When do we come out of our foxholes to associate with the rest of the world? When a vaccine exists? That might be sometime next year. Never? It’s starting to look more like it. Then, my thoughts go to each day I live though, a day that will never come again. Is this how God wants us to live? So afraid of a disease and not being safe that we’re afraid to love each other like Jesus calls us to. I wanted to explore that today, explore those questions that will help us consider how far down the rabbit hole we’ve gone.

Safe. Are Christians truly meant to be safe in this world? As much as some people from the prosperity gospel side of things would like to think so, I would have to say no. Think of all the Christians who have been martyred over the years. People who were killed for their faith in the twentieth century all the way back to the apostles themselves. Then, there’s Jesus Himself, the most important one. The one who was crucified on the cross for all of us. Does that sound like someone who wants us whimpering in our closets? I don’t think so.

Now, let me say this again for those in the back who might not have heard it the first time. I do not believe this virus is a hoax. But, when do we start living again? When do we come out of our familial cocoon? When do we care about each other? I’m not going to pretend like I have the answers to these questions, but they are questions we need to consider.

Each day is passing like its meaning is gone. Slipping away from one day into the next. Wondering what is right and what is wrong. Wondering who is right and who is wrong. Lives are not meant to be lived alone, but that is what society is calling on from us. To live alone which means we will die that much faster from reducing our social interaction to almost nothing.

This makes me wonder if that’s what God wants. To be alone to consider what He wants from us. Or to consider whether we really do care about the people He says we should care about. These might seem opposite to each other, but hear me out. We have had the chance to sacrifice ourselves during this pandemic. To help other people. Have we? Some of us have, those we have called and still call “essential workers.” Have we done it with the heart of Jesus? Some have, but not all because they have let fear overcome them. What about those of us who aren’t essential workers? I’d say fear has overcome us even though Scripture tells us not to fear. I will only quote one of the many Scriptures on fear. Isaiah 41:10. “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

I have been thinking about this as I’ve also considered the questions my pastor asked in his devotion this morning. (Wed. Aug. 26) “Who are we?” “What are we doing here?” I can only consider them for myself much as I also might want to change others. And God doesn’t interfere because He wants us to have the freedom to come to Him ourselves. It can be frustrating, but I am grateful God gives us His grace when we stray.

So, to end this, I vow to live each day without fear and with His heart as I pray for us to realize that life is short and should be lived to its fullest capacity-pandemic or not.

God bless you all!

Inertia

It’s been a rough couple of weeks. I’ve only been able to do necessary activities and write things I was sure wouldn’t be seen. I would feel paralyzed every time I attempted to do otherwise. It’s occurred to me over the last few days though that events I keep scanning over and over in my head have resulted in a state of depression which has lead to inertia. I’ve never looked at the two things together so I thought I would go over my thoughts and feelings today.

First, the definition. Inertia is a “tendency to do nothing or to remain unchanged.” Yes, that’s been me for the last few weeks. There’s also another definition you’re probably more familiar with which is from a physics-related viewpoint. Inertia is a “property of matter by which it continues in its existing state of rest or uniform motion in a straight line unless that state is changed by an external force.” Though this definition is used more in science, I could see how it would apply in my situation.

The definition also listed similar words that described some of the same feelings. The most relevant included inactivity, inaction, passivity, apathy, malaise, and lethargy. These are all words I can apply to my present state of mind and have been words I’ve used in the past when I’ve had a depressive episode.

But, until a couple of days ago, I didn’t know that my inability to produce written work was related to my depression. I thought it was more related to the nuts and bolts of this pandemic. Reading one news source that said the end was near or reading another one that said the coronavirus was like the flu. Being upset with the status quo and feeling inadequate because others are so satisfied with the status quo. Seeing other Christians make a point of telling people to stay home without making an attempt to help those who have been negatively affected by the pandemic. Then, people, you thought you knew, step back when they see you. It’s like a top keeps spinning, and you don’t know when it’s going to stop. The boogeyman, who invaded our nightmares as children, has come back on steroids with this pandemic. Fear has invaded our spirits no matter how much we want to deny it.

Here’s what I did with it though. It was so easy, I wondered why I hadn’t done it earlier. I let go of the people who don’t want to be in my bubble. Inadequacy and fear disappeared too. People are making choices right now to have surface relationships because of fear, and I can’t prevent it. I can control how I meet my words and how they pour forth. The thought released a wall in my mind, and a torrent of words resulted which has yet to be squashed. I know this will be an ongoing thing through this pandemic, but it is nice not to feel paralyzed now. Life is going to look different when the pandemic is over, and the choices I make now will help me to move forward. Have a wonderful day!

God bless you all!

Gems in My Pocket

I might or might not finish with the title I’m starting with. I want to see what the piece looks like before I decide. So, this week begins a new month. August, if you’re not already aware. It also brought one of my favorite authors back to social media. I was aware Rachel Macy Stafford had been taking a break from social media, but I hadn’t known the length. I saw the pieces she wrote this past weekend and at the beginning of the week and almost cheered. Actually, I did cheer.

Not only does Mrs. Stafford have the gift of weaving words together, but she also has the gift of true encouragement. Now, you might wonder what the difference is between encouragement and true encouragement. I call it authenticity. She has many fans, but every time I read one of her notes or responses, it seems to have been made for just that person. To have that gift is rare which makes me glad I found her as an author.

But, you’re not reading this to hear me wax poetic about Mrs. Stafford. You’re here to hopefully read a piece of coherent writing written by yours truly. I needed to include the set-up though so you would understand how I came up with the phrase “gems in my pocket,” and so I could give credit where credit was deserved. Mrs. Stafford used it as a teaching tool with her daughters when their family moved and remembered it again for herself when her friend moved. Being able to readily remember someone’s “words, laughter, and teachings” though you no longer see them regularly is a gift you keep for a lifetime.

I have those gifts too. In my over fifty years of life, I have moved several times, and I’ve gained something from each place I’ve lived. Memory. It comes at just the right time to let you know about the disparate pieces which have knit you into the person you are. I believe these gifts can also be strength builders though, and this is what I want to talk about today.

We are in a time of perpetual uncertainty. My young adult children are unable to enter the next phase of their lives, and I’m not able to enter the empty nest phase of mine. We, as people, can’t be around each other either which has been particularly frustrating for me.

Enter “gems in my pocket.” Despite the moving of our lives over to technology, I’ve appreciated tangible items of encouragement. I’ve carried around a letter and a card for several years because of the encouragement they offered me. I know who wrote me the card, and I’m pretty sure who wrote the letter though it was unsigned. These are items that will always be with me.

I mentioned technology, and it has had its benefits as well as its negatives to keeping in touch. There are texts that have come just when I’ve needed them or messages on social media. They are gems too though they’re not quite as tangible as the cards and letters.

Then, there are things that happen when we get-together. Of course, that’s not happening quite as much now because of the pandemic. We’re wearing masks, and we’re not hugging people. But, there are two things people have done for me recently that I count as gems. Winking and giving elbow bumps. I felt seen when that happened. More seen than I had felt since this started. A real gem, if you ask me.

As I conclude, I want to tell you this.  We need to feel like we’re seen right now. Like we’re part of a community. We’ve been told we need to stay separate so changing our mindset about this is difficult. But, I believe we can change it. So, for a challenge this week and moving forward, I challenge you to help someone feel seen in this brave new world of ours.

God bless you all!

 

Fierce, Free, and Full of Fire by Jen Hatmaker: A Book Review

When I picked this book up at the bookstore, I wasn’t sure I was going to buy it. From what I had read and heard of the author, I thought the book would turn out much differently than it did. But, then I read the blurb on the back, and with what I’ve explored this year about myself, how could I not read it. This sentence in the blurb was especially refreshing. “She craves a genuine world, a more honest and sincere community, relationships based in truth-telling, to be refreshing to a parched world.”  I needed this badly, but was I willing to do the work required. The only way to know for sure was to buy and read the book. I bought it, and now, I’m starting my review of it.

The author is a born story-teller. She takes her topics and writes about relevant examples from her own life without any judginess (Is that a word? lol) or religious condemnation. The book is divided into five sections with either two or three chapters in each section. The first section was especially powerful. It talked about accepting who we are–physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. It also discussed how each of us was made to take up a certain amount of space and how the kind of personalities we have relate to the dreams God has given us. The assertive responses listed on page 30 are responses I wish I had much earlier in my life. (Yes, you need to read the book to get those.) I plan to print these responses and hang them near my desk so I can remember when I need to use them.

The next two sections are entitled “What I Need” and What I Want.” When I looked at those titles, I recoiled. They didn’t seem right for someone who thought of herself as conservative. But, I read them. I read all of the chapters full of the author’s stories. Stories of being badly treated as a woman in ministry, stories of learning how to ask for help, and stories of leaning into her community. She also talked about dreams and about how to make space for those dreams. How about that? She has dreams like I do.

Finally, there are the sections entitled “What I Believe” and “How I Connect.” Throughout the book, but especially in these two sections, the author did a good job of sharing her story and also demonstrating that our stories weren’t going to look exactly like hers. Most people in this polarized age would turn their backs on those whose opinions were different, but she doesn’t. She is not judgemental, and I am forever grateful.

Now, for the hard work. I told you I was going to do it, and so, for this next section of the review, I am going to take each chapter title and write a sentence or two about how it applies to my own life. It’s the only way I can show how this book might help you.

  1. “I am wired this way.” I like to observe a situation before jumping in. This can be beneficial, but it can also be detrimental to those who want friendships.
  2. “I am exactly enough.” There are times I believe this down to my core, and other times, I know I will be working on this until the day I die. I think it’s why I have such a problem finishing my stories. Unconsciously, I believe my stories aren’t worthy of my pen. I want to do better!
  3. “I am strong in my body.” I haven’t been able to coordinate this with the other things I want to do during these strange times. It’s so hot outside that exercising wears me out, and I’m too tired to do anything else. I want to do better though.
  4. “I deserve goodness.” (I am quoting Jen’s statement here because I believe it reflects me exactly.) “I deserve goodness, even in religious spaces where I am an outlier. I am still a good sister and God’s kid, and I don’t deserve mischaracterization, rejection, and gossip.” (pg. 214, Fierce, Free, and Full of Fire, Jen Hatmaker)
  5. “I need some help.” This has been a constant challenge for me because of things that have happened in my past. Trust is needed when I need to ask, and I only have a few people I trust. This is also something that is a constant challenge.
  6. “I need more connection.” In some ways, I feel healthy in this regard. My family has grown closer to each other during this quarantine. and I am blessed. I wish I felt more connected with my friends right now though. (Covid has taken that away from me.) My wish, I think, is to find more of a tribe, more accepting of my genuine self, and to find connections with those who are unlike me.
  7. “I want this dream!” Yes, I want it! I want to be a published author and have my words touch people. Guess I’ll need to break a few eggs to get there. 🙂
  8. “I want to choose my yeses.” “Lazy and thoughtless.” Maybe, that’s my answer to what I wrote for number 6. I say yes to people because I want to gain respect from them, and I don’t work on my dream. Need to work on that.
  9. “I believe in spiritual curiosity.” How is community supposed to work during this pandemic?  We’re not standing together when we’re apart and afraid of each other. Yes, God has been with me every moment, and I am grateful, but I believe Christian community is going to look very different when this is over. There might be people I never see again, and I will have to learn to live with it.”
  10. “I believe in this cause.” I would march for women’s equality in the church and for their involvement in ministries that are not typically female-oriented.
  11. “I want to connect with honesty.” This is one of my biggest struggles. I have to have a level of trust with someone before I feel like I can be honest. And, sometimes I’m still not honest because I feel like I’m going to be rejected if I am.
  12. “I want to connect without drama.” Oh my goodness, yes! So much drama, especially among women. I guess that’s why I struggle with female friendships. I have no tolerance of drama. None.  I have to take a deep breath so I won’t get sucked into it.

In conclusion, I give this book my highest recommendation. If you let it, it will help you tremendously.

God bless you all!

Negotiating Fear

There have been many things to negotiate during this pandemic and quarantine. I named some of them in my last two posts and in a Facebook post a few days ago.

A daily dose of perspective — OTHER THINGS are going on besides Covid. Yep, you heard it first here. You might not believe it if you scroll down your feed, but it’s true. Many things I’ve read recently have contributed to this loss of perspective so I thought I would remedy this today.

I want to speak especially to three things. Unemployment, mental health, and other physical health issues. There are also, of course, issues of social justice, but I’m not qualified to speak to those so I won’t. I have seen many posts telling people to buck up since Covid is the only thing that matters. It’s not. I’ve also seen posts saying that people can die from Covid. Of course, they can, but they can die from other things too. Don’t believe me?

If you are hungry and can’t buy food because of unemployment, you can die. If you have suicidal thoughts (mental health) from being isolated for too long and act on them, you are dead. (Isn’t that what the definition of suicide is?) By the way, I had suicidal thoughts back in March and April and thought it would be much better if I wasn’t around. (You might still think so. 🙂 ) I had to fight my way through them on my own, and it wasn’t pretty or pleasant. Finally, there are people with other physical health issues. If they are afraid to go to the hospital to get treatment because of Covid, they can die. 

Isn’t that what it all boils down to? Fear. We are afraid. Don’t bother denying it. We are afraid, and for my Christian brothers and sisters, we are afraid even though we are told not to be by Scripture. 

I’m stopping the quote here because this is the promised further exploration of fear. When we first started hearing of Covid in March which resulted in several states shutting down, I wasn’t afraid of getting Covid. Maybe, I should have been, but I wasn’t. I was more worried about what the shape of my mind would be when we came out of isolation. The voices I hear in my head because of my depression and anxiety are more prominent when I’m isolated, and there was no telling how long we would have to be at home. I also knew there were Scripture verses that told us not to be afraid and decided I was going to hold onto them with all my might. I didn’t do this perfectly, but I did my best.

The news during those first few weeks wasn’t good. The numbers kept getting higher, and the reports from the media were full of doom and gloom. Was I supposed to be afraid? That was my main question. Even though I was familiar with such verses as Joshua 1:9, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go,” it still seemed like I should be afraid.

Then, the churches started closing. What was this? Churches had closed, and they were still telling us not to be afraid. Verses like 1 Timothy 1:7 and 1 John 4:18 didn’t seem to mean anything to those of us who follow Jesus. Whether we should be afraid or not has been the theological question I have struggled with this entire time.

As I’ve continued to listen to the media reports over the last few months and seen the precautions taken, one conclusion made the most sense to me. They want us to be afraid. They want us to be afraid of getting sick. Whether that’s inadvertent or on purpose, I don’t know. But, I do know one thing.  I want my thoughts to be on my Lord and Savior and for Him to be with me like it says in Psalms 23:4. “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff,  they comfort me.” I want my trust to be in Him like it says in Psalms 56:3, “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.” I want Him to deliver me from my fears like it says in Psalms 34:4.

As I wrap this up, I want to make sure I state I don’t have all the answers. I will probably be wrestling with this theological point long after the pandemic is over. But, I know I don’t need to be afraid and that God will be with me through it all–the good and the bad. I pray the same for all my Christian brothers and sisters.

God bless you!

PS I also want to make sure I tell you that I’m following all the mandated precautions for my area.

On a Different Path

A few weeks ago I saw a post from one of my blogger friends about creating a vision board for the rest of 2020. It sparked thoughts from my own life, and I wondered if I should do the same. I’m pretty sure most of us could say the first six months of 2020 have been rough with everything that has happened. Then, a few days later, I took this picture. It reminded me of Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken.” And, I thought maybe God might be using this time to put me on a different path. So, I thought I would talk about the vision board I made today and what went into the various parts.

Now, to clarify what I mean, I should probably share a definition of the term. “A dream board or vision board is a collage of images, pictures, and affirmations of one’s dreams and desires, designed to serve as a source of inspiration and motivation, and to use the law of attraction to attain goals.” (source-Wikipedia) Pretty detailed, right? I did one for 2018 and 2019, but doing one for this year totally slipped my mind in December. I’m thinking now though it was good it did otherwise I wouldn’t have anything to write about now. 🙂

So, as we all know, lives have been turned upside down over the last four months. I have written and am continuing to write, but it’s been hard. There’s been a lot of noise that has interrupted my focus and concentration. When the end of June rolled around, I realized I needed to re-focus on what I wanted to do with my life, i. e. create a vision board. Some of the phrases I used included: “Make your writing stand out.” “Think small, win big.” “Turn the beat around.” “New beginnings.” I also cut out pictures from one of my writing magazines. I especially liked the picture which resembled a new plant blooming. It’s what I feel like I’m about to do. What form that takes is unknown, but I know I need to take baby steps every day to get there, and the pictures and words I see inspire me to keep going.

The other part of my vision board contains phrases of the type of person I want to be moving forward. They are either quotes from a book I found this spring titled Live Love Now by Rachel Macy Stafford or quotes from different conversations I have had as I’ve endured this time through the pandemic. I especially liked this quote from Live Love Now. “Dare to reach farther than you ever thought you could.” (pg. 255, Natalie Stafford, Live Love Now) It’s what I’m trying to do. It’s what I’m hoping to be, and seeing it on my vision board helps me get there.

Finally, there is the poem I referenced when I began this post. “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost.

“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
As the poem says, I’m on a different path now, one I couldn’t have imagined before the pandemic and quarantine. One which celebrates how God made me and how I am wired. One which encourages me to be a bright light in the hard. One in which bravery and courage are requirements.
May we all follow the paths God has put us on whether we do it being cheered on by others or whether we do it alone!

God bless you all!

 

 

 

The Hard Thing

Hey, y’all! Welcome back to my blog! I know it’s been a while. I took some vacation time and then some thinking time as the world has seemingly gone to pieces during the month of June. Between Covid-19 and the resulting quarantine, the racial issues caused by the death of George Floyd and other African-Americans, and my own personal issues, 2020 has been an avalanche I haven’t been able to climb to the top of yet. As I’ve thought about these events and how they’ve impacted my life, the phrase “doing the hard thing” came to mind. The last four months have been hard on all of us, and I was struck by this phrase when I heard a review of the lessons that had been taught during the online Vacation Bible School at my church. This life isn’t supposed to be easy for Christians even though there’s a big misconception to the contrary. So, today, I want to talk about the things that have been hard for me over the past few months.

First, the pandemic itself. When this started back in March, no one knew a whole lot about the coronavirus. The people responsible for giving the orders to shut down were feeling their way around the whole situation. No one knew the best things to do or if they would even help. And, everyone had an opinion. I remember sharing some articles about how people’s mental health might be affected by a quarantine, and it was only a day or so later that people who had shared this information were being slammed by medical personnel who had no concern about how our society might be affected in other ways by this quarantine. I ignored them knowing that I would sadly be proven right at some point. And low and behold, four months later I have been. Mental issues have skyrocketed, and the rate of suicide has gone way up. I believe this is because people have been isolated from each other and don’t feel connected with anyone, cute sayings created by the media notwithstanding.

Then, there’s been what’s happened this month with the racially oriented protests and riots due to the deaths of George Floyd and others. I have seen, from both sides, the truly ugly parts of humanity during this time. And, I haven’t known how to react except for not being deliberately ugly with either words or actions. (Yes, I was taught how to be a decent human being though I know I fail at it more often than not.) But, I know racism still exists whether it is deliberate or ingrained in society. Anyway, events left me unsure of what to say or if I should even say anything at all.  I only knew that I wanted my life to reflect the life of the risen Savior I follow and to love as He does though to paraphrase a quote from one of my friends, I’m not exactly sure what that means anymore. It’s the way society is right now.

Finally, there’s the personal stuff. I am so tired. Tired of not being able to see people or even talk to them. Tired of not being able to bare my heart. Tired of not being able to worship. Tired of seeing the same people all of the time. It’s starting to make me wonder if living this life is really worth it. Whether it’s worth dealing with all the hard stuff.

But, all of this brings me back full circle to what I mentioned at the beginning of this post. “Doing the hard thing.” We can’t do it by ourselves. We can only do it with God’s help. Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Then, Psalm 121:1-2 says, “I lift up my eyes to the mountains–where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” I’ve said this before. The presence of God has helped me survive this time of quarantine. It has helped me do the hard thing. This hasn’t come without a cost. My mental health has suffered. And I’m not one to hide how I feel about something much to other people’s chagrin and judgment. It’s who I am though and who I want to be as a follower of Jesus Christ. Honest about my faith, honest about my feelings, and honest about myself as I try to live this life Jesus has called me to live.

May we all do our best to do the hard thing during these tumultuous times!

God bless you all!