Tag Archives: encouragement

Apples and Oranges

One of my brothers and his wife just celebrated 30 years of wedded bliss this past weekend. They’ll tell you it’s not all been ‘bliss’ but downright hard work at times. Relationships usually are hard work. It’s that iron sharpening iron thing – there’s bound to be more than a few sparks.

Something inside me still winces at how long my siblings have been married. Several have been married longer than I was. Sometimes, I get angry about that – that I thought I would be celebrating so many years of marriage. But I will not. Then I think about how my decision to divorce was a matter of life and death for me. I could not continue in my marriage because it had become a nightmare.

I have been with Cycle Dude for almost 8 years. Comparing the time I was married to the time I have been with Cycle Dude is like comparing apples to oranges. Comparing my marriage to my siblings’ marriages is also like comparing apples to oranges. I don’t know what challenges my siblings have faced in their marriages. I know that none of them is married to the type of person I was married to or has to deal with the type escalating behavior I had to deal with.

We cannot compare ourselves to others – our lives, our marriages, our children, our possessions, etc. God creates us to be unique people, a people after His own heart, a people willing to be used by Him for His glory. Wherever we are in our lives, that’s where we are supposed to be. God knows we are not always going to make the right decisions, but He promises never, never, never to leave us or forsake us. Read the lyrics to “How Firm a Foundation”. There is so much wisdom in the old hymns.

God does not compare us. Rather, He likens us to parts of the same body. So, instead of saying, “Gee, I wish my  _____ (fill in the blank – life, marriage, etc.) was like hers”, say, “She is an eye, I am an ear – we are both part of the same body, the Body of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 12:14-31) We are not apples, nor are we oranges. We are different people with different gifts and talents – all for the glory of God. Stay tuned. . . .

Going Gray

I colored my hair for years – blonde, auburn, dark brown. My natural hair color is a dirty dishwater blonde. Several years ago, I started going gray. In fact, I found my first gray hairs when my second son was in high school, as I knew I would. I thought I was too young to be gray. Then I met Cycle Dude. His natural hair color is a dark brown. He started going gray when he was in his late 40s. He is now 60 with a very attractive salt and pepper hair color. I thought, “If he’s not dying his hair, I won’t dye mine.” So, I didn’t.

Now, I have this dirty dishwater blonde hair with beautiful (gray) highlights. I’ve had several people ask me who does my hair color and highlights. I tell them it’s all natural. This morning when I looked in the mirror and saw my gray streaks, I thought, “My gray hair is like battle scars – I’ve earned every one of them and I am proud!”

Accepting my graying hair is accepting who I am. My hair is graying, I have scoliosis and I could stand to lose a few pounds. That’s who I am. I love Dove chocolate. If you’ve ever had Dove chocolate, you know they put little sayings inside the candy wrappers. One of my favorite sayings (that I have posted on my office bulletin board) is “Be proud of your age.” I am proud. I just turned 55. I have a good job, a man who loves me, three wonderful children and children-in law, my first grandbaby on the way, amazing siblings and mom, great friends and I live in a beautiful part of the country.

I accept that I am not perfect. I accept that I am not 25 anymore. I am looking forward to the rest of my life being who I am. I want to be a great Nonnie to my grandchildren. I want to be a wonderful companion to Cycle Dude. I want to be a loving mom to my adult children. I want to be a good daughter to my mom and a good sibling to my brothers and sisters. I want to be my best . . .  just the way I am!

Accept who you are. You are strong, you are beautiful and you are loved. . . . just the way you are! Stay tuned. . . .

Be Willing

I enjoy my job. I know not many people can say that. The reason I enjoy my job is that it gives me an opportunity to serve others so they can do their jobs well. I also get unplanned opportunities to pray with people and share the love of Christ. There have been times when I’ve been in line at the cafeteria and I’ve felt compelled to pay for the meal for the person behind me. That shocks people!

Why would I do things that are so radical – pray for a total stranger in the hallway of the hospital or pay for a stranger’s meal? I pray on my way to work (my commute is 40 minutes). I pray to be willing to hear God’s voice and do what He tells me. Philippians 2:13 says, “For it is God who works in you both to will and then to do His good pleasure.” The Holy Spirit motivates me to want to do and then to actually do what He tells me. (This is NOT a woo-woo kind of thing, nor is it doing violent acts in the name of Christ.) It is living my life as a believer in Jesus.

Sometimes being willing to do what He asks of me is risky – what if that person doesn’t want me to pray with them (that’s happened before)? What if that homeless person throws away the food I just bought for them? Now, mind you, I don’t do things that would put myself or someone else in harm’s way. I’m willing, not stupid. Sometimes I don’t act on what I feel Christ has asked me to do because I feel silly or I doubt I actually heard right in the first place. That’s okay. I do know that the voice of God will never contradict the Word of God.

Be willing to step outside of your comfort zone. Be willing to hear the voice of God. Be willing to allow Him to use you to show a broken world that He so loved the world. Stay tuned. . . .

 

The Tempest

In Shakespeare’s play, “The Tempest” caused a shipwreck that killed the main character’s enemies. One may feel that a divorce is like the tempest. Divorce is painful because it is the rending of two souls intimately joined by promise or covenant – that’s what the rings represent. Divorce can feel like a shipwreck, and all you are left with are splintered boards, broken glass and an oil slick on the water.

I have never endured a hurricane or a storm on the open sea. However, I have endured frightening thunderstorms in the Midwest and dust storms in Arizona. The tempest can take many forms – from thunderstorms whipping the atmosphere into a circular frenzy to mighty winds carrying dust into every nook and cranny and powerful storms over the ocean pushing the sea several miles inland. The tempest can also be the emotional storm that accompanies the ripping apart of a divorce.

I thought about this post this morning. I try to encourage others to walk through their divorce with courage, knowing there is light when you come out of the darkness. I know going through a divorce is not all butterflies and unicorns. I know it can be one of the darkest, ugliest and most frightening places you can be. I think only abuse and death are worse than divorce – at least for me.

Shakespeare’s character conjured up the storm for nefarious purposes. I know of One who calms the storm – for His glory. I can honestly say that if it had not been for my faith and the faith of two close friends, I would not have made it through the tempest. I also humbly admit that I did not ride out the storm as a saint. I rode out the storm screaming and shouting all the way – not out of fear, but out of anger and vengeance. I am not the ideal person to emulate during a divorce. However, I can proudly say that I am still standing, I have withstood the tempest because of the love of Christ.

The storm may be buffeting you all around. You may feel as if you do not have the strength to stand. Pray the prayer, “Help!” You will feel the hand of God calm the tempest and steady you. Have faith. Stay tuned. . . .

Be Prepared

I walked into work Tuesday morning to find that a survey team from a national  healthcare accrediting organization was on campus. The people at Myjob have been preparing for this organization’s visit for the better part of a year. The organization comes every 2-3 years to inspect the hospital for re-accreditation. Even though we expected the survey team in the fall, my boss said they could come as early as late spring or early summer. My boss has been preparing his team for this visit since October.

I am glad we have been preparing for this event. I have learned a great deal more about healthcare and what it takes to run a hospital. I have learned that it is better to be proactive than not. It is better to anticipate possible scenarios than to sit back and “let it slide”.

One thing I have learned, especially through my divorce, is to be prepared. I can honestly say, I was not prepared to divorce and then to deal with all the emotional, physical and financial flotsam and jetsam that accompanied it. Sure, I knew it was coming – I knew that several years before it actually happened. But I was still not prepared.

I wrote about this subject in a post entitled, “Storm Warnings”. However, I’d like to apply a little of what I have learned in preparation for this healthcare accreditation organization visit.

1.  Categories: Organize your divorce preparations into categories – financial, household, relational, work-related, etc. Sit down and make a list of these categories, then add the following: under financial – income, budget, savings, retirement, emergency fund (even though you may get alimony, don’t count it as income because it’s not going to be around forever and you don’t want to become overly dependent on it); under household – will you sell your home? Move into a new home/apartment? Need to have a yard sale? Need to replace household items? (hint: estate sales are good places to get household items – furniture, dishes, etc. if you need to set up a home.); under relational – How soon will you tell people of your (impending) divorce? Who will you tell? How do you break the news to important people in your life (children, parents, siblings, etc.)?

2. Rank: Once you have your categories and have broken them down into sub categories, give each sub category a ranking from 1 (lowest) to 5 (highest) in order of priority. What things will you take care of first? What things can wait? Work on the #5’s first and cross them off your list when done. Number fives should be things like income (how are you going to support yourself?), housing (where are you going to live?), and debt (pay off old debts and don’t create any new ones until your are financially stable).

3. Finish: Once you have finished an item, cross it off your list. If you are really good and make a spreadsheet, hide that column/row when you’ve completed it. Once it’s done, it’s done.

4. Document, document, document: Keep a copy of all your records. Keep a phone log of your conversations with ex or of any electronic communication with ex. You may have to produce this information if it comes down to “he said – she said” in court. Be aware that unless you inform someone you are recording the conversation with them, that communication may be against the law. A good rule of thumb regarding keeping records and documents is 10 years. Instead of tons of boxes full of paper crowding up your spare bedroom, scan documents and store them on a flash drive, backup hard drive or on the ‘cloud’.

Everything we experience in our lives in a learning experience. We can take what we learn in one aspect of our lives (ex. work) and apply it to other aspects of our lives (personal). The thing is we should never stop growing and learning. And, yes, we can even learn from an unpleasant experience like a divorce. Stay tuned. . . .

Taking a Lesson From Nature

Back in March, I moved in with Cycle Dude. He lives 20 miles from where I lived in Mytown, so now I have quite a commute! I don’t mind the commute – I travel through some beautiful country to get to Myjob. One of the things I like about living at Cycle Dude’s house is the variety of wildlife – mammals, insects, and amphibians – that live around his house. One day last week, I came out of Cycle Dude’s house and saw this moth on the ground. (I did not know it at the time, but the moth was dead.)

I stopped and stared at this beautiful creature! I was amazed at how creative God is! I have never seen a moth like this – with its art deco wing pattern. I am not sure how this wing design functions as camouflage, but I think it’s beautiful!

I have been giving this little moth some thought. This critter can’t help but to be who he is. What if he wanted to be a beautiful Monarch butterfly? Or a breathtaking Luna moth? Or not a winged creature at all? He is who he is because he fills a unique role in creation. His wing pattern alone creates ‘Ooo’s!’ and ‘Ahh’s!” Maybe he is unique food for another critter – bird, amphibian or insect.

I am amazed at how creative God is! We are all who we are because we fill a unique role in creation. I am not rich or famous. I have told God that if my only purpose on earth was to have my children so they could be rich or famous or they could influence another’s life for the better, then so be it. That’s my unique role. No one is nothing – we are all part of the Grand Design. Remember “It’s a Wonderful Life” and how George Bailey wished he hadn’t been born? Remember when he realized all the people’s lives he touched for the better?

Take a lesson from nature – we are all beautiful and unique. There is only one you, only one person with your unique wing pattern! Praise God for your unique role in His creation! Stay tuned. . . .

The Humility of Compassion

I normally don’t post twice in one day, but I just had an experience I need to share. It relates to a larger characteristic I wish I would see more of.

My boss is gone on vacation this week, so I have been taking advantage of the time and walking around the campus at Myjob twice a day. This afternoon, as I was walking by one of the medical buildings, I saw a young family in front of me. I expected them to turn into one of the buildings, but they kept going. I soon realized they were lost. I asked if I could help them find something. When they responded in the affirmative, I took them to where they needed to go. She was pregnant and they were going to her doctor’s appointment. I made sure we took the ‘inside way’ to the correct medical building because it’s turning into a hot day here in Mytown and I knew she’d be uncomfortable continuing to walk outside.

So why was this act humbling and compassionate? The family did not know English very well. They had a map and a confirmation receipt for the mother’s doctor’s appointment. I had to rely on them to tell me where they needed to go. In spite of what I tell my children, I don’t know everything. It was humbling to follow their lead. Why compassionate? The family was lost and it was hot outside – I made sure they found their way and didn’t get lost. I told the dad I was taking him through the building because it was cooler for his family.

There are many people who wrap their acts of compassion in the banner of self-promotion. “Look what I did to help this person or this animal. Aren’t I such a wonderful person?!” Jesus told the story of two men who went to the synagogue to pray – one man was rich and known for his riches. The other man was a tax collector and people despised him. The rich man prayed in a loud voice so the room full of people could hear him. “Oh, God, I thank you that I am not like the sinners – adulterers, tax collectors, cheaters. See how I fast twice a day and give my tithes to the church!” The tax collector stood in a back corner of the room and bowed his head in shame. “Oh, God. Be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.” (Luke 18:10-13) Jesus admonished His disciples and said the tax collector was the better of the two men. Why? Because he prayed (acted) in humility.

When we act out of compassion, we experience humility when we quietly perform our deed. The very action of compassion itself is humbling because we must step outside of our comfort zone to do what we know is right. Was it right to let that family continue to wander around in the hot sun when the mom was so pregnant? No, of course not! The right thing to do was to make sure they got into a cool building and found the doctor’s office. You might say, “Well, that’s just being kind!” Yes, it is. What you don’t know is that this family was of an ethnicity I have expressed a strong dislike for in the past. I had to shove that aside and ask, “How may I be of service to you?”

Humility is stepping outside of ourselves and putting others first. Compassion is showing care for another person (or animal) by serving them as Christ served us. (Matthew 20:28: ‘The Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve. . . .”) Don’t be afraid to humble yourself and serve others in the love of Christ. Stay tuned. . . .