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Posts Tagged ‘living’

It’s been a week filled with talk of death, confirmed and pending.

Our kids often say their friends find their relaxed, nonchalant manner of speaking of death odd. I remember one day, years ago, when one of our kids had a friend over. At dinner time I announced that dinner that night would be funeral food, and the eyes of our visitor popped from her head. What followed was a discussion of how sometimes, when there is food left over from a funeral or memorial reception, it gets shared with those who were involved in the service. As hubby is a pastor, who officiates many such services, he sometimes gets offered a plate of the left overs. This is not a normal event for the typical household.

Our kids are often privy to the technical details of funeral planning, of the humanity and humor of funeral directors. They hear of their dad’s visits with those who are dying, and of the stages leading up to the final earthly breath a soul makes. They have heard him speak, eyes heavy, voice unsteady, of having visited so one for the final time, knowing that he will not see them again until reaching that Fovererland of eternity. This job of pastor is as much about saying goodbye as saying welcome.

I like that our kids are growing up in an environment where they see and know that death is part of life. That grieving and tears are okay. That loss touches everyone. That no man or woman is an island, and death touches many.

I also like the frequent reminders that death is inevitable, because death, more than anything else, reminds me to live.

Last week, with each Facebook update, my heart paused, my lungs emptied of their air, my eyes filled, my throat swelled. Death is around the corner for a woman, and cancer is the vehicle that is driving her there.

A young mom, who I’ve only met a couple of times, yet she has been on my prayer list off and on for the past eight to ten years that she has battled this disease. She, her husband and three (nearing, and into adolescence) children have been give the news that their wife and mom only has days, maybe short weeks to share a smile, a laugh, share the embrace that says security and unconditional love.

When I read that update, the one that spoke of a time limit for this life, I sighed, heavy.

Then I thought to myself, how would I live my life, today, if I knew it was one of my last on Earth? Particularly, how would I live today, as a mom?

I’ve decided not to share how I would live, but I am challenging each of us to ask this question of ourselves. I am challenging each of us to live, today, as if we knew it to be one of our last.

I also ask you to please pray for this woman, and her family as they all walk her, together, to heaven’s gate.

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What is an adventurous life?42e52062bb6e070f099f7b7f3f7b2bb3

As summer is approaching, as plans are made for vacations, for lazy summer days, for parties, for barbecues, for trips and activities, do we plan adventures too?

Do we make plans for our summers that make our hearts race? That make our pupils dilate? That make our palms sweat? That make the moisture in our mouths dry, and a lump form in our throats. Do we make plans for our summers that thrill and excite us, providing us with stories to tell when we return to our jobs, our schools when the play time is done?

When I found the quote to the right I immediately thought of my summer break, and those words made me question how I would define an adventurous life.

Those words made me think of bucket list goals of jumping out of a plane, or climbing a mountain (with bear spray in my pocket), or swimming with whales. Those bucket list items were more prevalent before I was a mom (not that I wouldn’t jump at the opportunity to do them).

Since becoming a mom, an adventurous life looks different to me.

Now being adventurous is going to every SciFi movie that hits the big screen, or going on a mother-daughter road trip with my daughter, her friend and that friend’s mom, or teaching my teen how to drive. It is learning to sleep even if the chickies are not all home yet. It is wading through the chemistry of hormones and attractions to the opposite sex. It is sitting down to discuss my child’s academic progress at a parent-teacher conference. It is wiping teary eyes, letting them make their own mistakes, and biting my tongue (how I have bitten my tongue!).

It is in and through my kids that I have risked the most, been stripped of all I thought I was, and felt the real rush of adventure. It is in and through my kids that I desire most to leave a little piece of myself behind.

And so, as I plan for adventure this summer, I know it will have more to do with simply living life, having mine intertwine with the hearts and souls of those three who I long most to experience the thrill of doing life with each and every day. That is the ultimate in risk and adventure.

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En route to work yesterday the radio announcer talked about a young man who had recently become a YouTube sensation. What made him rise to the top was his music, his joie de vivre (the way he lived life to the full) … and the fact that he was dying.

Zach Sobiech, a teenager from Lakeland, Minnisota, from a family of six … mother (Laura), father (Rob), Alli (22), Sam (19), and Grace (14). A senior at high school. A student making plans for college. A musician. A young … young man.

Zach-Sobiech-3-600

At fourteen Zach was diagnosed with¬†osteosarcoma (bone cancer), and he spent much of the next four years fighting for his life with surgeries and treatments. In May of 2012, Zach’s doctors informed him, and his family, that they felt he only about a year to live … at seventeen years of age.

Encouraged by his mom to write letters to the ones he loved, Zach threw his heart into writing music instead. In December his single, Clouds, was released on YouTube, and at the time of this writing, there have been over three and a half million hits.

On Monday, May 20, 2013, Zach completed his earthly journey, breathing his last with those he loved most, and who will miss him most, gathered around.

“And we’ll go up, up, up
But I’ll fly a little higher
We’ll go up in the clouds because the view is a little nicer
Up here my dear
It won’t be long now, it won’t be long now”
‘Clouds’ (Zach Sobiech)

SoulPancake produced a story about Zach, and his incredible will to live each day as if he were dying. “My Last Days” is worthwhile time spent.

“I want everyone to know, you don’t have to find out you are dying, to start living.”
Zach Sobiech

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As I entered the quiet room, I flicked on the light … no movement.images

I moved the blankets, still warm with the heat of his body, down off his chest … still no movement.

This man-boy sleeping before me is completely without movement, even the rise and fall of his chest with life-sustaining oxygen is almost indiscernible.

Waking my son recently gave me a birds eye view of the effects of God breathing life into man and woman.

When I entered his room he was completely unaware of my presence, of the bright lights being turned on, or that I had moved his blanket off of his upper body. He lay on his bed motionless, even the rise and fall of his chest as he breathed was almost without motion.

When we sleep our breathing slows immensely, because our muscles and organs are not needing large amounts of oxygen in their resting state. As our breathing slows, our body’s processes slow, it is as though the life within us were hibernating. We are still fully alive, yet we are not fully living our life.

Some of us live our daily lives as though we are still in that hibernating state of sleep. Our bodies function, we do all that is needed to be done in order to sustain our existence, yet we live as though we are asleep, our organs functioning, but not as though we are fully awake … not as though we are fully living our lives.

As I worked at stirring my son, the moment of his waking was discernible. He inhaled a deep and audible breath, and as that first breath of the day was entering his lungs, signs of life were also discernible in his body. His eyes moved behind the veil of his lids, his limbs moved and he stretched his body, as though making more room for the oxygen entering his lungs.

His awakening, heralded by his intake of the first big breath of the day stirring every cells in his body to be fully awakened, fully alive.

This is the freshness of each new day, of each new year. To take in the breath of life given to us by our Creator, and to make our days, our years, our lives worthy of the gift He has given.

“Then the Lord God
formed a man
from the dust of the ground
and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life,
and the man became a living being.
(Genesis 2:7)

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