Lights of Grace



Something Actually

All too often we hear a story, we may even be the bearer of the story, followed by looks of astonishment and the declaration, “You can’t make this stuff up!”.

Maybe, just maybe, ya’ can.

According to my Facebook feed and The Today Show, every day seems to be a National “something or the other” Day.
The trend to declare every day as a National Day of Something actually makes me happy. Some, in fact, make me delirious, while others are just a bit odd to me, but each one is meaningful to someone(s).

A few examples of these National Awareness Days …

Food Day: How do you recognize this day? Going without food in order to understand what that feels like; or contributing to the local food bank? To do is to understand don’t you think?

Thankful Day: Is this a day of giving thanks or of receiving thanks? Which has the greater purpose?

Thinking Day: We need a day for this!?! Oops, did I say that out loud?

Poetry Day: How special to take ten minutes to read a message that impacts the heart and the head with a meaning that I think about for the rest of the day, often memorizing those words to repeat them when I need to be reminded of that message. Try it because the next step is addiction to stories, then an ascension to the world of full length novels. Want to try this three step program?

Trivia and Humiliation Day: Observed on the same day – coincidence? As an active trivia team member I think not, but am certainly open to other opinions.

Peanut Butter Day: I observe this on Thankful Day.

Jelly Day: So many choices, how good is that?

Peanut Butter and Jelly Day: NOW we’re talkin’!!

Dance Like a Chicken Day: How do chickens dance? I’ve seen some do the Michael Jackson moon-walk, some do the Texas Two-Step, while others do the yoga standing- on- one- foot- pose. Namaste.

Chocolate Day: Everyone is aware of this. However, there’s more specific chocolate days such as Bittersweet Chocolate with Almonds Day or Chocolate Chip Cookie Day, just to name two. While I realize you may have to wait to Thinking Day to respond, what is your specific chocolate day of choice?

Peculiar People Day: Pretend to be peculiar for a day. What would that look like? Who would you become? Why would you become that person? Walk a mile in someone else’s shoes…that’s all I’m sayin’… .

Be Nasty Day: Ah-ha, now’s our chance! On this day we can get away with doing, saying and acting…well…er…mean? This makes me sad.

Some of the more unique awareness days that I also find interesting are:
Bologna Day, Clean Out the Fridge Day, Use Even If the Seal Is Broken Day, Roof Over Your Head Day as well as Enormous Change At Last Day and Bicarbonate of Soda Day – these last two are celebrated on the same day. Coincidence?

Then there’s the Day of Prayer. I surely hope that this Day raises the awareness of what prayer can do. I pray my way out of bed each morning, pray my thankfulness as my children say “I Love you Mom” before they hang up the phone. Every. Single. Time. I pray for wisdom, for guidance and for strength. So if a Day of Prayer brings awareness of the power of prayer, then Glory be to God.

Play God Day. Who wants to take that on?  God is God, and we are not.





My Best Friend

My Best Friend.

The Impatient Patient: An Agape Love Story

The Impatient Patient: An Agape Love Story

Valentine’s Day is a time to celebrate loving others and of being loved by others.

 In our English language, there is only one word for the emotion of this day and that word is love.  In ancient Greece, however, they had several words.  One of those is agape, which means love in a spiritual sense – a selfless giving, expecting nothing in return.  It is a pure and simple love that doesn’t need a score card.

I imagine that those who know me have guessed that the “impatient patient” is me, and that any type of inactivity frustrates me.  I’ve rarely been satisfied with only doing one thing at a time.  If I were reading, I was also watching TV.  If I were housecleaning, I would start cleaning one room and before finishing, go to another and start cleaning it, go to another and start cleaning it – who attempts cleaning an entire house concurrently? When I worked in the corporate world, I was happiest working on mergers and acquisitions, better known as taking companies apart and putting them back together…making them bigger and better.

Yet I finished the book, finished the TV show, finished the housecleaning and finished the mergers, no matter how long it took or at what cost to me.  I’m not sure I always succeeded in making the corporate world better, but was proud of trying, and I do like a clean house and a good book.  Being able to perform multiple tasks “in a single bound”, had its drawbacks, which has taken me a lifetime to understand, but never so much as my recent lessons have.

I keep my life full of, often frenetic, activity such as writing, traveling or planning to travel, worrying, studying, researching to finish first draft of my first book and so on.  In the past several months I’ve experienced the mending of three physical conditions that have also mended my need to be in perpetual motion by forcing me to learn some hard truths.  God certainly had been trying to show me these truths, but my impatience caused me to be a bit headstrong at times.  Yet God knew I had to learn, so He did what any loving Father would do, He stepped out of my way.

My first lesson taught me to see.  Stress manifested in a droopy eyelid eventually covering enough of my pupil to affect my vision. As often happens, life gets in the way and it was only when I couldn’t get a prescription reading that I finally had it fixed (a 5 day recovery period).  Imagine my amazement when I realized I didn’t even know I couldn’t see – until I could! That sentence is worth rereading don’t you think?

My second lesson came from playing golf.  No longer able to use poor eyesight as an excuse for my poor playing, I went to the driving range before a tournament to warm up.  Out of nowhere, when I hit the ball I experienced such a strong pain in my left side that it almost took me to my knees.  I walked it off and tried it again, over and over and over, expecting a different result, but not getting it.  Learning a bit from lesson one, I went for help.  The first doctor said, “Just don’t play golf”.  Hmm, what kind of solution is that?  So, I went to a sports doctor who gave me a shot in the cardiac thoracic muscle and sentenced me to physical therapy three times a week for four weeks.  I complied, optimistic because I had a solution that was not passive; yet it didn’t work either.

Finally, I went to a doctor who found a growth in my left side — the size of a golf ball.    Imagine my surprise to learn that not only was this the source of the pain, but that it was also…gulp…precancerous. Recovery took two days.  Pain, whether physical or emotional, is dangerous to ignore.  I laugh when I say, “Golf saved my life” – but I know God saved me, yet again.

The third lesson was from having foot surgery.  It has now been four weeks and I still have trouble walking due to nerve pain, infection and a bit of a bump.  The unexpected length of recovery has humbled me. It has forced me to physically be still because I can do little else, even though my frightened self is pushing hard.

During this enforced period of stillness, I’ve learned to think in terms of moments – too frustrating otherwise.  During the first winter storm, I watched as the softly falling snow created breathtaking beauty on this little mountain where I live, while in another world only a few miles away, this same snow shut down the city of Atlanta. I felt a kindred association because, just like the paradox of the snow’s geography, the mind and body don’t always agree on the same consequence.  I had difficulty accepting that my body said no, while my mind was screaming for me to regain my physical independence. I quickly learned that screaming doesn’t help at all, as you will see; my lesson was a bit harder this time.

I believe strongly in helping others, but when it comes to receiving help, my independent nature prefers to be just that…independent.  Necessity caused me to rethink that.  Gradually, I accepted the help of others in the form of walking my dog, food, calls, cards, running errands, taking me to doctor appointments, out for a ride or just a visit.  Facebook had to help me figure out who the “snow shoveling angels” were who cleared my driveway.  This said, it took a bit longer for my frightened self to begin asking for help.

As the days and weeks went by I began to realize that although God had gotten out of my way, He had not left me.  He worked through other people, not only in taking care of me, but in waiting for me, through His own patience, to realize the peace that comes from stillness.   I learned to accept the agape love of my family and my friends and by relishing and giving thanks for each expression of their love, I allowed myself to be in the moment of loving and of being loved.  How good is that?

I learned to see and to appreciate the generous nature of people that had always been there, albeit taken for granted.  I learned that when something is unsettling, like a pain in the side or in the spirit, to not delay finding the cause, no matter how difficult it may be.  As I discovered, pain can be the opportunity to live a happier, healthier life.  I learned the importance of grounding expectations in reality.  I really thought that at two weeks, stitches out, I could “dance the night away”.  That didn’t happen.  This disappointment knocked me “down”, so I reached all the way down to my toenails and pulled every ounce of patience I had, and in the doing, I pulled myself back to a “standing position”.  Aha! Patience, a wonderful healing device!

I will always have lessons yet to be learned.  But for now, this moment, I happily love each one of my family and friends that have been, are now, and are yet to be – and celebrate their, and God’s, agape love with gratitude.  I would like to share an excerpt from a Psalm I learned in elementary school – I know, they don’t teach this in the schools anymore, but I’m thankful I learned it at a young age as it has always sustained me.

Psalm 23:1-3  “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside the still waters, He restores my soul. He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.”

Here’s wishing everyone a Valentine’s Day filled with sparklers!

I can tell you what Christmas is all about.

Remember when we were kids and how exciting it was to go back to school and we’d make a list of all the great stuff Santa had brought us?  Barbie dolls, a red wagon, a BB gun, fruit, candy and a huge ham and cakes of all kinds for Christmas dinner.  Dad would say the blessing and carve the ham.

That is not what my childhood Christmas was all about.  Dad was away in the war and any extra money went to pay for the heat in the house and food like beans, potatoes, bread and milk, not toys.  It seemed like life sucked because I didn’t have all those things other kids had.  Dad eventually came home from the war and the warmth of his presence and his love was worth any sacrifice.

Remember how our mothers were the heart of Christmas, creating it’s meaning for all of us?  The shopping, the baking, the decorating, the wonderful secrets and always, always going to midnight communion which gave us the joyous peace that mothers know it will? But then mother died and Christmas became lonely and fake and life sucked.  At some point, I can’t tell you when or why, I began to do all of the same wonderful things with my children and we began to build on the foundation mother had provided, making it stronger with each new memory we created as a family.  Her legacy gives us joy and peace, keeping her close, and I believe – happy, always.

Then we grow up and realize that life can suck on any given day with or without notice. This hurts and with the pain, memories of what is good and right in our life are swept away by the uncertainty of just how much adversity one can withstand.

In the Charlie Brown Christmas Special where Charlie Brown asks about the meaning of Christmas and Linus, blanket in hand, explains, “And the angel said unto them, Fear not, for behold, I bring unto you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you this day is born in the City of Bethlehem, a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; you shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel, a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on Earth peace, good will toward men'”. (Luke 2:10).

Like Charlie Brown, we may shout, “What’s the big deal about Christmas?”

It seems to promise good things, but bad things still happen.

It appears that many of us may not be sure what Christmas is all about either.

But if we only seek the meaning, we discover it really is all around us.

Linus ends his explanation by simply saying, “That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”  If we all could have the faith of Linus, life would still sometimes suck, but we would gain some of that peace on earth and good will toward others as we realize that the good in our lives gets us through those bad times.

God gave us His son, Jesus who suffered and died for us of His own free will:  “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son… .” (John 3:16).

If we think about that, we can find hope in the will of  people everywhere, every day, who give their lives freely for others so that others might live. A friend of mine gave her husband her kidney so he might live, a sister gave her sister her bone marrow which put her cancer in remission, a young firefighter died of smoke inhalation but managed to rescue an 87 year old great grandmother, troops every day give their lives so we are safe.  The reality of Christmas is the understanding that God doesn’t prevent bad things from happening, but He does provide us with comfort and support as He guides us through the bad times, often using those around us to help us.

In the first days of my widowhood, Kathy, Tammie and Rosita called me every day, ignoring that I often didn’t answer the phone or return their calls.  Still their calls continued, every day, until I began to answer the phone and I began to call them back; God at work through people.

Christmas is about accepting that bad things are just going to happen, and having the faith that God is there every moment.  Anyone can be thankful when times are good, but maintaining our faith and belief in God through the bad times will give us strength to persevere and to eventually recognize and to be grateful for the goodness that still exists in our lives.

And that, my friends, is what Christmas is all about.

Thanksgiving Day 2013 – Concepts of Choice

I choose to keep an adequate supply of “rose colored glasses” to wear during the darkest of times because they let sparkles of light shine through.

I choose to try to be happy because choosing to be sad, well, it just keeps me sad.

I choose to try to live according to God’s plan, even though I may not understand or agree with it; because understanding is not the same thing as knowing.  That comes from faith.

I choose to try to be a good mother, a good sister, a good friend, a good person even when I don’t want to be any of those things, because through God’s grace I have had the goodness of a mother, friends, and many other people who have blessed my life with their goodness.

I choose to try to have a glass half full of champagne, choosing to celebrate the good that comes with the bad.  Because how could we ever gain wisdom about what’s important in life, without acknowledging that the path that takes us to God has moments of joy to get us through moments of pain.

I choose to try to be faithful , even when the world is saying faith is a myth, because faith has always sustained me.

I choose to try to remember there is good in people, while choosing not to hold onto a perceived hurt, hoping others will forgive my hurts to them.

I choose to try to thank God throughout the day for my dog, Teddie, which means “gift from God”. So when I do, I’m actually thanking God for His providence.

I choose to try to donate time, money, products or services even when I’m experiencing tough times because I have received time, money, products and services to get me through tough times.

I choose to believe everyone will join me in choosing to be thankful this Thanksgiving Day, because I choose to try.

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