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Archive for the ‘WONDER’ Category

Whatever …

So many articles on anxiety, worry, hopelessness and stress.

Our living in the midst of the COVID-19 has brought a heaviness to the hearts and minds of many.

I have to admit that my attitude was rather cavalier about the risks of this virus to anyone who is not a senior or who is living with pre-existing conditions that make their health more compromised. Then, one day, one of our kids fell asleep early in the evening and when I went to do a mom-check, a high fever was present.

Cavalier was immediately gone. It was replaced with heart pounding concern, worry, fear.

Whatever …

I heard the word in my head, in my heart, but it was not alone.

whatever is true,
whatever is noble,
whatever is right,
whatever is pure,
whatever is lovely,
whatever is admirable
think about such things

A passage from Philippians, memorized many years ago, as a child attending a Pioneer Girls club, surfaced … just. when. I. needed. it.

coincidence? I think not.

The Psalmist tells us, “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11). There is something powerful about scripture that has been memorized and how it surfaces in our minds when we need it’s message, it’s hope, the most.

Whatever …

Whatever is on our minds, threatening our sense of inner peace, striking us with fear, making our stomachs turn with worry … whatever it is … COVID-19, job lay offs, change, isolation and loneliness, change … a high fever (that was gone after taking acetaminophen) … these whatever verses are a great positive U-turn, a reminder of where we need to turn our mind, our thinking toward … where there is peace.

” … brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:8-9

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I have been looking for love …

Ever since self isolation and Toilet Paper Gate, I have been looking for a way to love others through this time of Coronavirus. I thought it might be doing errands for seniors but … it just didn’t read into my heart the way I wanted it to.

Life is so different, for so many right now!

No sports to watch at the arena or bar, no concerts, no movies at the theatres and cinemas, no romantic dinners at restaurants, no vacations, no church services, no coffee dates and, for so, so many, no jobs to go to.

Living in this time of Coronavirus means we have what many of us have wished and dreamed of for so long … free time. What we didn’t hope for was that we would have free time, largely, self isolated in our homes.

If you are like me (an introvert who can fake it if I have to), it was, initially, delightful. I have painted rooms, done a bit of writing, tried new recipes, did a jigsaw puzzle, watched a bit of TV, gone for walks in the sun with the Wonderdog and enjoyed the sound of … silence.

The thing is that even for we who are introverts need to feel we are contributing to someone, something bigger than ourselves and our own desires to feel … healthy, purposeful, alive.

Yesterday, that something (someone) arrived at my heart-level, as I scrolled through social media, in the form of this:

A friend, with whom I attended church a number of years ago had posted the above. Her adult daughter lives with special needs and she (no doubt the whole family) are finding these days long … really long. In this time of Coronavirus, programs are largely cancelled. The events, and day trips, and jobs, socializing and learning (and respite) that help those with special needs to feel that they are healthy, purposeful, alive have been eliminated from their days … which can leave a big hole.

This mom’s plea touched my heart.

Having spent almost seventeen years as an Educational Assistant and two working in group homes for those with special needs, there is a very special place in my heart for those who live with struggles that go well beyond my own … that includes those with special needs and their families who parent on a level beyond the typical.

So, I have now accumulated three young women’s addresses. All three are ladies who live with unique special needs. All three have purpose, gifts and a need to be part of community. These (and, I hope more) will be my new pen pals, and I have no doubt that I will be at least as encouraged and ‘fed’ by these new or renewed relationships, as they will be.

And DO NOT praise me for this … we are all called to love one another … it just happened that God pointed out to me who, and how to love them.

Now, who is he pointing out to you to love during this season of Coronavirus?

“Each of you should look
not only to your own interests,
but also to the interests of others.”

Philippians 2:4

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At every Remembrance Day service in Canada is sung a most hauntingly sad and hopeful song.

 J.R. Watson, who compiled hymns in a number of anthologies, said of the hymn, O God our Help, “this is one of Watts’s greatest hymns on the human condition, setting the shortness of life and the littleness of human beings against the timeless greatness of God…. who has been our help [in the past] and hope [in the future].”

It is a good hymn to sing now … in this time of Coronavirus.

It was written by Isaac Watts, over three hundred years ago! Not only did it have staying power, but it’s message is one of staying power as well.

O God, our help in ages past,
  Our hope for years to come,
Our shelter from the stormy blast,
  And our eternal home.

Home may be beginning to feel a rather eternal location for many these days, but it is our shelter as well, both for us and for those who need us to stay home … for their good.

Under the shadow of Thy throne
  Thy saints have dwelt secure;
Sufficient is Thine arm alone,
  And our defence is sure.

The shadow present today is not different than in Watt’s lifetime, nor in Moses’, the one who wrote Psalm 90 … the Psalm that this hymn was written after. Psalm 90 was written as a prayer to be prayed daily.

Before the hills in order stood,
  Or earth received her frame,
From everlasting Thou art God,
  To endless years the same.

That verse, above, to me is the heart of this song. Near the middle, bringing our attention to the heart of the matter … that, though things can change, ever so much, in our lives, there is a constant, who never changes … the everlasting God.

A thousand ages in Thy sight
  Are like an evening gone;
Short as the watch that ends the night
  Before the rising sun.

How fragile and short is life. Our mortality ever whispering to us. Yet, there is One who has always been, who knows eternity.

Time, like an ever-rolling stream,
  Bears all its sons away;
They fly forgotten, as a dream
  Dies at the opening day.

More mortality. This verse almost reckons our memories to the meaninglessness of Ecclesiastes’ numerous a time to statements. Really it is just the reminder of the fragility of time, of our time. Our days are not to be wasted.

O God, our help in ages past,
  Our hope for years to come,
Be Thou our guard while life shall last,
  And our eternal home.

We come to the end, which is a prompt for us as we look at the remainder of our days. The past, how God has been faithful to us, is our hope for the days to come, be it here on Earth, or in eternity.

“The timeless greatness of God…. who has been our help [in the past] and hope [in the future].” (Watson)

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Ever had a virtual birthday party? Last weekend was a first for our family.

With hubby’s job being one with daily exposure to senior citizens, our concern for the well being of those at risk prompted me decide that a virtual connection might be best to celebrate my birthday.

So, with the combination of a video conference call from three locations and my mom ‘seeing’ us from a Messenger video call, I was serenaded by my loves to Happy Birthday. We ate our individually made mug cakes, laughed at our corporate technologically ineptness and experienced a new form of togetherness … in a time of Coronavirus.

We might have to get creative, but life can still be fully lived in this time of Coronavirus.

For me, I have now been home for a week (originally part of a two week Spring Break). It is interesting how quiet life has gotten. There are the morning walks with the Wonderdog, doing a jigsaw puzzle, canning red pepper jelly, watching a show, texting friends and family, ordering groceries online and having them loaded into my vehicle and chats with family.

In all of it, life is being fully lived.

I have heard of neighborhoods and communities who have left messages of hope with chalk on sidewalks, hearts and rainbows in windows, items left in windows for neighborhood scavenger hunts for those with children who need a diversion. I have heard of people doing errands for their neighbors and sharing resources.

Life is being fully lived.

Though the doors of most churches and places of worship may be closed, technology allows us to gather (even in our pj’s) around a screen and hear the word of God preached. We can still sing and pray, corporately. We might even have the privilege of meeting as a small group to pray, to study and to encourage each other.

Life is being fully lived.

As we are increasingly confined to our homes, during this time of Cornonavirus, may we continue to live our lives with the same purpose, drive and joy as before … and increase our commitment to creatively caring for and encouraging others.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy;
I have come that they may have life,
and have it to the full.”

John 10:10

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… Lucille

and out of nowhere there it was again … grief.

The death of Kenny Rogers, the playing of his songs, brought grief back, in a flood of emotions and memories.

Grief does not have a lifespan, an expiry date. It does not respect the comfortability of others. It is something one learns to live with, knowing that, at any moment and for no apparent reason, it resurfaces with pent up energy and emotion … developing into tears and the loneliness for one who is gone.

At a certain stage in my dad’s life, Kenny Rogers (before Kenny’s facial plastic surgery) was his doppelganger. It just so happened that my dad also loved his music. He would sing along, attempting to duplicate Kenny’s distinctive husky voice.

My dad loved to sing. One of my memories of eye-rolling as a kid (along with the plaid shorts and the socks that went up to the knees … with the plaid shorts) was how my dad would finish our sentences with lyrics from songs.

It would go like this:

Mom: Don’t count your dirty money at the table …
Dad: They’ll be time enough for counting, when the dealings done

Mom: I was talking to Aunt Ruby this morning …
Dad: Ruby, don’t take your love to town

I have a sweet colleague at work who does this too … I think she might think I am making fun of her when she does it and I point it out, but I love that she does it for it always makes me think of my dad, makes me smile fondly.

It was hearing Roger’s song Lucille that really brought grief to the forefront. It was the words, you picked a fine to leave me, Lucille that did it.

Those of us who loved him are probably all feeling like you picked a fine to leave … We have stuff in our lives that … make us miss him more, lately. We miss him all over again.

At his funeral was a slideshow of photos from his life, our lives. One of the songs that played was Kenny Roger’s singing I will remember you

Dad, I know I am not alone in saying you picked a fine to leave … I miss you all over again …

You decorated my life
Created a world
Where dreams are a part
And you decorated my life
By paintin’ your love
All over my heart
You decorated my life

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from the book,
“the boy the mole the fox and the horse
by Charlie Mackesy

Breaking announcements have become common as the red flashes across our screens, as the attention-seeking noise blares from the radio. Closures, limitations, warnings and preparations are rocking our entire world.

“His dominion is an everlasting dominion which will not pass away; And His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed”
– Daniel 7:14

And I sit here, in the early morning hours, when silence is the only volume, and I turn to the window and watch the horizon lighten, ever so slowly. The sun is indifferent to viruses, to pandemics, to troubles … it just does what it was created to do … it rises, every day.

“From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the Lord is to be praised.”
– Psalm 113:3

And what were we created to do?

praise the name of the Lord …

  • in our prayers
  • in our care for our neighbors
  • in our willingness to self isolate
  • in our reading his word
  • in our flexibility and understanding
  • in our support of the helpers
  • in supporting organizations and businesses that will be impacted
  • in our lifting up of praises in song
  • in our prayers

Lord,
May we be found doing what we were created for … praising you, from the rising to the setting of the sun. May you do what you promised, for us, granting us your peace, no matter the situation we are walking through.
Amen

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”
– Hebrews 13:8

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Me or we?

Sometimes our questions come down to that one question …

Me or we?

When we believe that our actions do not have any impact on those around us … when we think that our desires come before anyone else … when we hold to the perspective that we are in control of our own destinies we are living in the me world.

When we consider how our actions impact those around us … when others are considered in the seeking of having our desires met … when we recognize that our destinies are in the hands of a greater power … and we care for the needs of others who we share community with, we are living in a bigger world … the real world.

We are now living in a time when we need to abandon the me for the we.

Now is the time to clean out the stuff in our homes that we truly do not need and prepare it for donation to those who have need. To reach out to help our neighbors who might not be able to get out to get essentials. To read good books, to try new recipes, to take a walk in our neighborhoods, to play games. To use technology, for calls and FaceTime gatherings. To get to know the people who live under our own roofs.

Switching out our thinking from me to we.

It is now the time to listen to what health experts are saying, suggesting, imploring. It is now the time to look at the needs of those around us, of how our pursuit of me could put others in possible danger.

I recently read an article from the Boston Globe, written by Mattia Ferraresi, who is a writer for the Italian newspaper Il Foglio. (The subtitle of the article is, “Many of us were too selfish to follow suggestions to change our behavior. Now we’re in lockdown and people are needlessly dying.”)

Ms. Ferraresi said, of the affects of the lockdown in Italy :

“Strangely, it’s also a moment in which our usual individualistic, self-centered outlook is waning a bit. In the end, each of us is giving up our individual freedom in order to protect everybody, especially the sick and the elderly. When everybody’s health is at stake, true freedom is to follow instructions.”

May we learn from what other nations had to learn the hard way. May we acknowledge that this world does not revolve around me but that we share this world, are co-dependent on each other for both joy and for survival of life.

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor (WE) as yourself (ME).’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Matthew 22:36-40

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