Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Staying Young

It's Thanksgiving break and the Little One said "Let's run a mile tomorrow." I was shocked but said yes as I have recently decided to take it easy.  After our run, we were on our way back home and I saw my neighbor. My neighbor Sal is a very interesting man with a lifetime of stories. He loves to talk, or at least when he starts talking to me, the conversation is very interesting. Somehow we got to talking about memories and how he sometimes forget things but remembers things that happened a long time ago so vividly.

He then proceeds to tell me this story. Sal said, "I remember my two little sisters. They would be on the balcony and would pop their faces out and say, 'Salvador, where are you? Where are you?' During WWII in 1943 the Germans bombed Naples and his house was bombed and his sisters did not survive. His mother made it out but she kept calling for her two young daughters. She was in a state of shock for a while. His dad was a Socialist, was arrested and taken to a concentration camp. He survived the concentration camp but he too was never the same. His dad was injured or tortured while he was in the camp and a doctor from Norway befriended him and took care of him. Many years later this doctor was in Italy and Sal's dad recognized the doctor. They were able to talk. His dad told the doctor the story of his sisters and how his mother was suffering and he asked the doctor what could be done for his mother. The doctor suggested that they have another baby. Sal says it worked and he remembers his mother walking around and hugging his little brother." Sal says laughter and being thankful keeps him young even though he forgets. His current doctor reassures him that he's doing well and it's a function of age.

Talking to Sal on this Thanksgiving Eve made me realize that we all have a choice in how we deal with the things that happen to us. Talking to Sal makes me realize that many have dealt with racism and injustice, not just those that are my skin color. I'm not always thankful even though I know I should be. Sometimes I want to have a pity party or believe that there's nothing good happening for me but nothing could be farther from the truth. So thanksgiving eve is a great time to reflect on the goodness of life in spite of all the horrible things that are happening. To realize that the simple pleasures are what makes life worthwhile - fellowshipping with friends and family, being able to enjoy a meal, watching the generations grow and listening to the elders.

I don't have a HouseBeautiful house; but I do have a beautiful heart thanks to the One I serve; hopefully as I interact with others they can see what makes me beautiful.

Have a wonderful thanksgiving and remember to give thanks.

Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NLT)
There's ALWAYS something to be thankful for.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Circles

Source
One morning as is our habit, the Little One and I were reading the Bible. We were reading this passage and as I read verse 22 she blurted out:

"Circles.  Circles!!

The Earth is round. Circles mean the earth is round.

Why did Columbus think the earth was flat? Why did anyone think the earth was flat?

All they had to do was read the Bible; it's right there."

It was right there all the time. I guess we could save ourselves a lot of trouble and gain so much if we would take the time to read the Bible and process what we read.

God sits above the circle of the earth. The people below seem like grasshoppers to him! He spreads out the heavens like a curtain and makes his tent from them. Isaiah 40:22 NLT

Do you read the Bible?

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Job Hunting - Networking and The Wait

There's so much conflicting advice out there when it comes to finding your next opportunity; for example:
  • The resume is dead, but at some point it's what everyone asks for
  • Set yourself apart from the competition and do a prezume instead of a resume
  • Be creative but follow these steps
  • Go to networking events yet don't be pushy.
Do you see how all of this is a contradiction particularly the networking piece? Any networking event I've ever gone to always feels unnatural, because for the most part you can't connect with people in a hurry. You can't really tell if you truly have something in common over drinks. Really, all you want to say is can you help me find a job? But you don't want to come across as desperate or needy.  So you smile and shake hands.

Networking and connecting with others does work, but not if time is an issue. You have to be able to let go and let the chips fall where they may.  If you're a nice person or pleasant, no need to pretend so folks can connect. People generally want to connect unless you totally insulate yourself (and that definitely won't work if you're trying to network!)

No matter what the billboards say, connecting with people can not be forced. Sometimes networking simply fails because people realize that they are being used and in my experience no one likes to be used. You want to connect because you just fit. But you may not always have that opportunity when job hunting.

Instead job hunting involves a lot of waiting. Waiting for positions to open; waiting for the call back; waiting for the next move. Waiting is a huge part of life. While we wait, we should use it as an opportunity for preparation and for positive thinking. Waiting is part of the game; it's part of the game for job hunters and it's part of the game of life.

While you wait, build your faith, because faith and endurance go hand in hand. Networking is synonymous with living. So network as much as you can, but keep the faith.

Then you will not become spiritually dull and indifferent. Instead, you will follow the example of those who are going to inherit God’s promises because of their faith and endurance. Hebrews 6:12 NLT
"We are twice armed if we fight with faith." ~ Plato

"There are many things that are essential to arriving at true peace of mind, and one of the most important is faith, which cannot be acquired without prayer." ~ John Wooden

"If patience is worth anything, it must endure to the end of time. And a living faith will last in the midst of the blackest storm." ~ Mohandas Gandhi

Please keep the faith.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

This Person I've Become - Sacred Solitude

I grew up in a noisy, busy house. Noise was a constant - whether talking, yelling, music, toys banging, you name it, it was noisy.

When I had my family, since noise was all I knew, noise is what continued, and of course with three  young children, quietness seemed like a gift. I never mastered the art of reprimanding children quietly.

If I was on the phone and it was somehow quiet, the caller wondered why the house was quiet as if quiet was not expected. I guess I came to expect it too, until one day I heard myself saying the TV was too loud. I have a loud voice but I started making a conscious effort to talk softer. When the children were gone during the summers, I actually found myself looking forward to the peace and quiet. I don't mind when my husband travels, because I've discovered the infrequent times of solitude are OK and refreshing.

Though it seems to be all of a sudden, I love when I am home and there is no outside noise with the exception of music. I like the sounds of peace. And I am surprised because this is a 180 degree turn from where I started from.

While I like the sounds of a lived in house, I enjoy the solitude of a quiet house even more. And at this stage - I am pleasantly surprised by this but plan to enjoy it. More often than not in these times of solitude, my soul is refreshed and I cherish that; for often in these quiet times, I hear a still, small voice.

11 “Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” the Lord told him. And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.

And a voice said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 1 Kings 19:11-14 [NLT]

Do you enjoy solitude? Have you always enjoyed it?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Choose To Live

Source
By now you may have heard of Brittany Maynard - the 29 year old who was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer and is choosing to die on November 1st, 2014. She moved to Oregon so that she and her family can take advantage of the Death with Dignity Act, and received the sedative that will end her life. She is married, and is her mother's only child. Somehow she is being hailed as a hero but something in me does not sit right with all of this.

All of us have had dark days where at some point we may actually think we're better off dead. The irony of life is that when you're dealing with something in that moment that's all of you have - the culmination of experiences leading up to that point. The beauty of life is to have survived, and look back in amazement, with new strength. If you hadn't overcome you wouldn't be where you are today. By choosing to die, you are shortchanging yourself of all the good life has to offer; the yin and yang; the growth and reward; the trials and overcoming.

But even when you don't overcome, you grow, because you realize life isn't perfect.

Choosing to die at a time that's convenient says I get to take my life in my own hands. I get to determine my perfection. I get to quit. The ultimate fallacy is it fools you in to thinking that you are really in control - when you're not.

We are not totally in control of our destinies, God is. [Job 14:5, Psalm 139:16] By choosing to die, you're trying to take over something that you have no control of, because you really don't know what death will bring. Death is a huge unknown; death is more uncertain than dealing with a terminal illness.

I also believe dying with dignity is a crock. Dignity is ideal but death isn't always dignified. Sometimes it's sudden or gruesome or painful. More importantly, since death is inevitable we should be prepared for death, but not in a controlling way but rather as an inevitability that we all have to face.

When my brother left this earth after 17 years of a long terminal illness one of the things that struck me was that he was no longer here. He didn't have to be perfect to be missed. He just needed to be here and he no longer was. He could no longer make an impact on those around him. He was gone. It didn't matter if his fingers were perpetually curled, or his skin had darkened, or he could no longer move - he was a presence in his house. He could still communicate with his family members the best way he knew how. The others around him were learning also - how to deal with adversity, how to smile, how to deal with pain, how to be tender and compassionate, and much bigger lessons. Lessons that were absorbed but were never spoken. He may have been diminished physically but he still had a lot to give, as the gap that is his death proved.

Diagnoses aren't final; as far as we know my brother outlived many people with his illness by at least 10 years. In this way, he made his doctors think and ponder all they knew about his illness. His living provided a challenge so that they could help the next person.

Do you know that dark days don't last forever? I know that's not a fair comparison to a terminal illness but everyone has something that they are dealing with.
What if everyone who had a terminal illness chose to die? What if the beauty is in living? Who says one has to be perfect to enjoy life or make a difference? 

I hope Brittany has a change of heart and lives as long as the days that were allocated to her.