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Saturday, April 11, 2020

No Man Is An Island

No Man is an Island
Considering these words of 17th century poet John Donne,they are just as relevant today as they were when he penned them so long ago. The entire world has been thrust into almost global quarantine in hopes of "flattening the curve" of this pandemic that has held sway over us for months. Those infected quarantine themselves in hopes of not infecting others. Those not infected quarantine themselves to help curb the spread, choosing not to be like the bee, that unknowingly spreads pollen from flower to flower.
Now we have become our own private islands, separating from those we love, and those we don't love, in hopes that soon the virus will be quelled and the declaration of freedom rings once again. But we are not, can not be islands. Our humanity yearns for contact, affirmation, and encouragement from others. We need the expression of empathy, the bond of camaraderie. Though forced to become human islands, our souls remain connected. We share pain and triumph, worry and assurance.
When this crisis is over, when we once again rejoin the continent of our existence, how we reached out as islands will strengthen the bonds we had before. In enduring alone, yet together, the continent will be forever changed, strengthened and beautified.

No man is an island,
entire of itself;
every man is a piece of the continent,
a part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less,
as well as if a promonotory were;
as well as if a manor of thy friend's
or thine own were.
Any man's death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind;
and therefore never send to know
for whom the bell tolls;
it tolls for thee.
John Donne, 1623

Sunday, July 1, 2018

What is Parental Love?

What is parental love?
When I first held my daughter in my arms, so tiny and helpless, the wave of love that swept over me was palpable. I knew at that moment, without the slightest doubt, that I would give my life for her. She hadn’t done anything to deserve my love - she was mine, and I was hers. Forever.

As she grew, she became more and more herself. Her personality, her physical features and intellect were all developing; she was becoming, and is still becoming, just as, even at 53, I am still becoming.
She was adorable, funny, and so very strong-willed. There were days that I didn’t appreciate her strong will for sure! But my love for her wasn’t based on her personality. I loved her because she was mine!
Over the years from 8-18 there were lies, anger, blue hair, black nail polish, moodiness mixed into the laughter, butterfly kisses, endless singing, back rubs and hugs. All those things wrapped up together were part of Elizabeth, and she is mine. Thank God she is mine!

Looking back, I know I did things that my parents disapproved of, things that they wouldn’t have chosen as part of my life. Makeup experimentation, the music I liked, the clothes I wore, the decisions I made - not everything was stellar. But I was their daughter and they loved me in spite of everything. What a wonderful way to grow up: knowing that my parents loved and accepted me, no matter what.

When we’re lucky enough, blessed enough, to have a child, you hold an immeasurable gift with unknown possibilities. Who will that child become?
We’re also given the chance to realize the amazing, unconditional love that God has for His children. “I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:38-39). Oh how successful I would be as a parent if Elizabeth could say that she is sure that absolutely nothing could separate her from my love. That she was sure that neither clothing nor hair, nor attitude nor actions, nor anything under the sun...would cause me to think less of her, reject her, or make her feel unloved and unloveable. Because she is mine!

Friday, January 1, 2016

Happy New Day!

It's seven minutes to 2016 as I start to write this. Odds are, I'll start this post in one year and finish it in the next. I'm thinking about how much weight we give to the new year. We look at it as a clean slate, a fresh start full of promise. We approach it with new resolve and great expectations. 
Looking back at 2015, it was a good year overall for me. There were good days, great days, and days I'd rather not remember. I know people who had it pretty rough this year. Loss of loved ones, cancer, marriages ending; sadness overshadow their memories of 2015. And I know others for whom 2015 was a "banner year", full of success and happiness at every turn. All in all, 2015 was 365 days of life. 
I think, as December 31 melts into January 1, I want to start with a new perspective. Rather than fill my mind with hopes for the next 365 days, I'm going to look at each day as a fresh start. Twenty four hours of promise. A day full of opportunities to show kindness, love my people, reach for my goals. No one knows how many days we have. There will be people who won't make it home from their New Year celebrations tonight - the ultimate irony. So I say, "Happy New Day!"  May we live each day that we have full of hope, and joy and love. 

Saturday, December 26, 2015

The Christmas Star

This month, Jeff and I celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary. The day Lizzie and I put up our Christmas tree, I thought about longevity as she placed the star on top of the tree. Jeff and I bought that star in New York City the year we got married 30 years ago. That first year, our tree was not much bigger than the star. The star towered above it, threatening to topple it over from its weight. 

As the years went by, our trees got bigger, and our star topped each tree every Christmas. After a while, it lost it's specialness. It was always there, a lot like our marriage...commonplace and easily taken for granted. 

One year, we plugged the star in, and nothing happened. No lights. I don't remember what else was going on that year, but we put the star aside and replaced it with another tree-topper. We didn't throw it away, but it wasn't important enough to work at fixing. Christmas came and went that year, and the star spent the holiday in its box. 
The next season came, and I expressed my sadness over the star. I didn't want some other topper, I wanted our star. Jeff saw how much it meant to me, and he fixed it. He had to somehow attach it to a short string of lights that plugged in to the tree's light system. I don't know exactly what he did, but by the time Lizzie and I had the rest of the tree trimmed, he came in with our star and plugged it in. All the extra lights made it shine even more brightly than ever!

Our marriage is very similar to our star. It's been there, constant, for 30 years. There have been a few seasons that we've ignored it, taken it for granted,
left it in the box. There was a time we almost threw the box in the trash. But when we realize how much we mean to each other and are willing to do the work, it shines more brightly than ever before. 

Thursday, December 24, 2015

The Night that Christmas Became Christmas

The Night That Christmas Became Christmas
by Ann Dunlap

The music and the madness
And the merriment of Christmas
Is so different than the dawning
Of Christmas long ago.
There was silence, there was stillness,
As the Savior came upon us
The night that Christmas became Christmas long ago.
The presents and the purchases
And the pageantry of Christmas
Leave an emptiness,
A longing in my soul.
For the wonder and the worship
And the winsomeness of Christmas,
Like there was the night that Christmas
Became Christmas long ago.
Oh be still, my soul, and listen
As the Heavens tell the story,
And creation shows
For all the world to know!
Hallelujah! Hail! Hosannah!
For Immanuel drew nigh,
The night that Christmas became
Christmas long ago.

Monday, March 9, 2015

A new hurdle...

Last week I had a routine mammogram. I wonder how many stories start out with those very same words? Anyway, I had actually forgotten about the mammogram until I received a call from their office today while I was at work. It seems that something "showed up" in my left breast. Some irregular, focal, dense, yada yada and some other words...the scheduler lost me after "something showed up". So I have "additional tests" scheduled for next week, and I am absolutely not supposed to worry about this at all. Obviously the scheduler doesn't know me. As much as I would prefer not to worry, it is physically impossible. I was born to a worrier. It's in my DNA. My track record stinks for health issues. I've already had thyroid cancer, and they say that women who have had thyroid cancer are much more likely to develop a second type of cancer within ten years.

Of course it doesn't help that this is coming at a time spiritual disconnect and relational turmoil with those with whom we were in fellowship. I want to trust God. I've had big talk over how easy it was to trust God in the past with all the other stuff. Maybe once I know for sure what's going on, the trust will happen. That saying from a dear old saint in CA rings true - "you don't need the ticket till it's time to get on the train."

I've been following the story of Kara Tippetts, author of The Hardest Peace, fairly closely. I want to have her courage and faith. I want to be around for a long time, especially in Lizzie's life. She needs me, and I love that. I want to meet that need well into her adulthood. And anyway, I could be hit by a bus tomorrow and never have to face the "additional tests" anyway...

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Beauty - Much Deeper than Skin

I recently finished reading a book called Glorious Opposite by Veronica Edmond. She contacted me while she was in the process of writing it, because of a blog post of mine that she read. The post was about scars, and how they can be ugly, but also can be a "sacred call to always remember" what God has brought you through. Veronica's book is all about her experience with breast cancer. The cancer and subsequent disfigurement were very difficult for her and her husband to face, and apparently my blog post encouraged her to see her scars differently.

I received an email from Veronica, and it included a devotional reading entitled You Are My True Beauty. It was very uplifting, and it prompted me to hit the Word to see what God says about true beauty. We're inundated with the world's ideas about beauty - women who are thin and voluptuous, dressed fashionably and bejeweled and bedazzled are all around us in magazines, on billboards, and some of them are even walking among us! Most Christian women would say that those women achieve a beauty that is only "skin deep". In 1 Peter chapter 3, I found that there is a beauty that goes much deeper than skin - it goes heart deep. "Do not let your adorning be external - the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear - but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious." Oh I just love it when the Bible gives us a clear definition of something! We see a contrast here between what people think is beautiful and what God thinks is beautiful.

We've all seen the contrast: a beautiful woman, impeccably dressed and made up, shoes and handbag matching, earrings and bracelets all coordinating, scented expensively and not a strand of hair misplaced. I remember secretly envying a woman just like that. I was on the bus to school. She stepped on and captivated my attention, even at 8AM! In just a split second, I knew I wanted to trade lives with her. And then it happened - she opened her mouth, and the image of beauty quickly flitted away, replaced with harshness and anger focused at the poor bus driver. There had been an accident, so he was ten minutes late arriving at her bus stop. She couldn't find her bus pass, so she was digging in her Coach purse for exact change, while the driver patiently waited. She fumed when she realized the bus was full and she would have to stand. "No one gives their seat up for a lady anymore," she huffed out. I wanted to retort, "maybe if they saw one, they would!" but I held my tongue. In that brief time, my beauty idol systematically erased all traces of her "skin deep" beauty and her true self was exposed. It was a self that was completely "me" centered.

Fortunately I've had the privilege of experiencing the opposite in the contrast. A woman, older, bald from chemo, dry skin covered with sores; barely was she able to lift her head, let alone consider makeup and clothing. Yet her quiet confidence in Christ shone brightly in her eyes, through her words. In her worst time, she was a fragrance of the knowledge of Christ to everyone who saw her. (2 Cor 2:14) This is my beauty idol! This is the makeover that I want!

We women all strive to be beautiful. We want those around us to think that we've got it all together and it looks good. We worry about what our friends, spouses and co-workers all think of us, when we really should be concerned with how God thinks of us. And He's provided us with His beauty tips! You won't find them in Glamour or Cosmo, though. You gotta hit the Word!