What is it?
Looking through my journals and email, I found out that I was wishing for a lot of good things to happen. I claimed to be “hoping,” but I did not/could not be confident the desired outcome would happen. That is not what hope is about. Hope is more than wishing. [Want to know more? Click here.]
Thursday, November 25, 2010
Paralysis, mentally and emotionally, caused by my fears – bordering on paranoia at times – keeps me from enjoying reasonable hopes, dreams, expectations, contentment, and happiness. Fighting against my stubborn fear is the truth: I have many reasons to be thankful.
People are always saying to me, “Stop being so negative.” People are quick to point out my pessimism. I acknowledge it is easier for me to see the glass as half empty. Try as I might, I cannot find gratefulness inside myself. That’s where the pessimism likes to hang out. I cannot pull myself up with my own hands, gripping my own bootstraps. Thankfulness can only come from my Higher Power. Petra (a Contemporary Christian Rock band), in Thankful Heart, sings,
“Your steadfast love - I'll never be alone
I have a thankful heart that you have given me
And it can only come from you.”
A thankful heart is given to me. I cannot manufacture or develop it on my own. This does not negate my responsibility to exercise and practice gratefulness. One AA sponsor said to practice by giving thanks at least 100 times a day. She said that it might include red lights or the argument with my teenage daughter. Her point: We don’t know why these apparently “bad” things happen. These annoyances get in our way of getting what we want, but they may be instruments used to save us from a more dangerous situation. I have found myself saying, “Okay, I don’t know why [this] happens, but I don’t have to know; just give thanks."
What are you grateful for today? Be specific. Today I’m going to share things I’m thankful for with as many people as I can. Starting now, with you:
Advancements in medicine (insulin pump!)
Husband’s job security
Higher Power (whom I call Jesus Christ)
Purpose for life
Therapist(s) (current and past)
Knowledgeable and caring doctors
YOU, whoever/wherever you are!
Thursday, November 18, 2010
This summer we went to see Whooping Cranes in Wisconsin. We saw several Whooping Cranes way out over the marsh; however, we were unable to see them up close. In the Fall, a bird watching group we follow online reported a single Whooping Crane hanging out with Sandhill Cranes at a bird sanctuary not too far from home. At the first opportunity we made the drive with binoculars and camera in hand.
Unfortunately, the other bird watchers said the Whooping Crane had already flown by. Some birders with large scopes could still see it some distance away, bobbing up and down in the water behind some cattails. We were disappointed, but still watched as Sandhill Cranes flew toward the water in their orderly V-shaped squadrons, one flock after another.
As we watched, I wondered how do they know where to go? Who gets to lead? Who decides? How did they learn aerodynamics? When did they start relying on each other? Is it instinct? How did they come to know they need each other? How did they become predictable and knowledgeable of the turning of the seasons? They just do. Something, Someone, has put this knowledge within them.
My first, instinctual, thought is not usually the most helpful one. I am often confused as to where and why I’m going someplace. I usually try to do things on my own, always fighting against the wind racing at me, not asking for help. My life is not predictable. My life, as a human, is fraught with unpredictability. There are lessons to be learned from the cranes. I need to rely on and trust other people in my “flock” (family, friends, doctors, etc.) I need to take advantage of the rest I get when I let others take their turn out in front, battling the wind.
Basically, I need others to lighten my load, and I need to take my turn lightening the load for others. The church in Colossae was instructed to “bear with one another, and forgive each other whoever has a complaint against anyone.” And to the Galatians: “Bear one another’s burdens, and thus fulfill the law of Christ.” We are not meant to navigate through life without giving help and receiving help from those in our “flocks.” Something or Someone has put that knowledge within each of us, also. Part of this knowledge, is a need and desire to be a part of a “flock” that allows us to care and be cared for.
Even the Whooping Crane – lost, off track, confused, and/or frightened – found a flock in which to fit. I need to find a flock going the same way I am. I need to become a part, to fit in. I need to serve the flock and accept service from the flock, as I keep moving toward a common goal(s).
(Quotes taken from Colossians 3:13 and Galatians 6:2)
Thursday, November 11, 2010
In 1943, shortly after graduating from high school in Detroit, Michigan, Jim was drafted into the U.S. Army. He trained at Camp Walters in Mineral Wells, Texas before being moved to Camp Shanks in New York to await deployment to Europe. Eventually he ended up in Southampton, England.
Jim landed on Utah Beach, on June 7, 1944 as part of the second wave of invasion on France’s Normandy Beach. Those in his unit that made it ashore were temporarily attached to the 28th Division as reinforcements. A couple of days later he was reunited with his original unit: 1st Platoon, 2nd Battalion, 120th Infantry Regiment, 30th Infantry Division.
Jim’s unit marched across and around and through the east part of France. Saint-Lo. Avranches. Mortain. Thinking his unit was going to get some R&R (rest and relaxation) in Mortain (it seemed the Germans had vacated the town leaving it for the Allied armies to occupy.) Instead, the Germans counterattacked and a small group of Americans held them at bay from August 7 through August 12.
Unable to get reinforcements, food, water, or ammunition, Jim’s unit tried to break through the enemies’ lines to get to safety. They tried to disguise themselves as local farmers, but the Germans were not fooled.
On August 13, 1944, Jim and three of his friends were captured. The Germans moved them around on foot and by train. At each stop, they would be interrogated. Some of the towns Jim remembered seeing signs for or hearing the Germans talk about included Paris, Reims, Limbourg, Frankfurt, and Moosburg, Germany, where he officially became a POW (prisoner of war.) Stalag VIIA became his home until the end of the war nine months later.
Today, on Veteran’s Day, I remember Jim. I call him Dad. He passed away in 2004, but I will always appreciate his sacrifice and service to his country and his daughter. Me.
Thursday, November 4, 2010
My son was playing basketball. I was yelling encouragement and praise to the team. My son was an adequate player, so when he did something outstanding, I cheered loudly. I don’t remember when or why I had started calling him “Nater.” It did kind of rhyme with his name. And I would often call him “Nater Tater.” Tater, as Samwise, a hobbit from The Lord of the Rings books and movies, called potatoes.
I had enough restraint to not call him “Nater Tater” while we were out in public. But the Nater part stuck. He acknowledge he could hear my cheering him on when I used this pet name – better than he could when I used his real name. I wondered if he was embarrassed about it. He actually said he liked it. It was easy to hear and was different from anyone else on the basketball court.
We liked to sit right behind the team. I cheered for all the players by name as they played and as they were sitting on the bench getting breathers. One player came off the court for his rest period. He asked me the question. I did not have an explanation that would not embarrass my son. As I was pretending to think about it, feigning distraction by the game still being played, I was saved.
The young man asked, “Is it short for The Terminator?”
Wow! What a save! Of course I said that was exactly it. As the season rolled on the team picked up on that and started using “Nater” as they were encouraging and trying to get his attention while on the floor. When he blocked a shot or held his ground getting knocked down by an opposing player, some of them would chant, “Terminator, terminator, terminator!” It was no longer just me he could hear as he played. There was a group watching, cheering, encouraging, and challenging him to do his best.
The Bible tells us that we also have an “audience” cheering us on to do our very best while here on earth:
“Therefore then, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us strip off and throw aside every encumbrance (unnecessary weight) and that sin which so readily clings to and entangles us, and let us run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us,” (Hebrews 12:1, Amplified Version)
These witnesses know who we are. I would not be surprised if they know us by name – even our nicknames. They know what encouragement we need so we may continue to run the race before us. They know exactly when to cheer for us for doing something well. They know when we need to be challenged to rethink the way we are doing things. They remind us of the fundamentals of this game called life: patient endurance and steady and active persistence.” They challenge us to do our best within the guidelines those witnesses have given us. Are we listening for their encouragement? If we pay attention to their encouragement, we will be able to play – live – the course God has appointed for each of us.
Are you listening? Can you hear them cheering you on?