Monthly Archives: April 2014

Second Chances

I made my bed this morning.

Not a big deal.  Anyone with a bed and a blanket and the ability can make up a bed.

As I was drinking a morning cup of coffee, I watched as a robin gathered strands and stems from my flower bed that I haven’t cleaned up yet.  That robin was making the bed, too.

It occurred to me, that very same robin likely worked this very same task last spring.  The nest was built, the eggs were hatched, the young fledglings took wing, the nest was abandoned, and the ravages of winter storms destroyed that small carefully constructed home.

Sometimes, it can feel as if this scenario is played out in our own lives as a dream we have cherished since childhood, so carefully constructed in our hearts and minds, skips the steps of being hatched and taking wing, and these dreams are simply abandoned and destroyed by life’s storms.

Thankfully, we get second chances.  Sometimes, we even have third or fourth chances.  Another chance to follow a dream, another chance to build a life, another chance to see fruition.  Every morning that we awake, we receive a new beginning of a new day.  This day is ours to do with as we please.  This day and every day is a second chance to make something beautiful happen.

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The way I see it, by making my bed, I am accepting that challenge to take hold of that second chance, to do what I can with what I am given to make that dream come true, each and every day.

So, how does your bed look?

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Fearfully and wonderfully made…

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.  Psalm 139:14

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A few months ago, I learned that I have three compressed discs, two in my neck and one in my lower back. There are a host of other issues that are also going on health-wise with me, that it turns out are likely interrelated. I have discovered that our amazing bodies are created in such intricate, interdependendent, and interwoven ways that I honestly never really gave thought to until very recently.

Having a compressed disc in one’s neck is linked to many ailments, including headaches/migraines, neck pain (obviously!), arthritis, muscle strain and spasms, pinched nerves, carpal tunnel syndrome, TMJ, fibromyalgia, fatigue, numbness in hands, and low back pain. I have endured many of these issues over the years without knowing why they were happening, just that they were happening.

Having a compressed disc in the lower back can cause back pain (again, so obvious!), sciatica, leg pain, and nerve damage, along with contributing to bowel issues, like IBS. IBS and similar digestive issues can increase the instance of weight problems, like unexplained weight gain or weight loss.  Both of these compressed disc areas can interfere with sleep, with energy levels, with mood disorders, and so on.

As I was thinking about all of this new information, and being thankful that I am able to get treatment for these issues in my body, I was reminded of 1 Corinthians 12:13-27, where Paul compares the human body to the Body of Christ.

Unity and Diversity in the Body

Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.

Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!”  On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.

 

The suffering of one part affects all of the other parts! We need to care for one another as a part of the same Body. It is so easy to say, “I really don’t give preferential treatment to myself over others,” when in reality we do. We sometimes claim that, “I care for others, I just don’t care about myself,” which is also a wrong attitude. We are all important pieces of the whole. All the parts of the Body need special care and treatment, and all the parts of the Body are lessened when one part is ignored, hurting, in need, or glossed over.

Do this. Search out the hurting parts. They are interconnected with the Body. Befriend them, encourage them, help them heal. Search out the rejoicing parts. Befriend them, encourage them, celebrate with them. Get connected, get healthy, get real, get loved.

Get it?

No Small Kindness

“Do to others as you would have them do to you.”-Jesus

“Treat others like you want to be treated.”-Lou Holtz

“If you treat people right they will treat you right… ninety percent of the time.” -Franklin D. Roosevelt

Many of us have heard these sayings, or similar sayings, over and over again.  We are told that our relationships with family, with friends, with co-workers, with fellow shoppers, will be fine and dandy if we just do this one little thing.  Now, I am not to going to argue with Jesus that He was wrong.  What is wrong is our perception of this advice.  When we confront someone about a perceived shortcoming on his or her part, we back up our actions with “Well, I would want someone to tell me what I did wrong.”  That is not true.  I know that, although I would want to know that I did something in an incorrect way, I want to be told gently and lovingly, not made to feel inferior or unintelligent.  Most of the time, when one takes the aforementioned stance, he or she knows, even if only sub-consciously, that there was a better way to communicate.

“The way you see people is the way you treat them, and the way you treat them is what they become.” –Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

This advice from Goethe is a good reminder that all of our actions towards others have an impact, whether positive or negative.  To put this slant to practice in the workplace, here is a suggestion.  Remember that each staff person is someone’s daughter or son.  How would you want someone in your position of authority to deal with your son or daughter?  Many of the staff members are possibly parents or grandparents.  How would you want others to treat your own mom, dad, grandparents?  Looking at the issue of relationships, especially in the workplace, it is much more compassionate to use the “How do I want my family treated” aspect than the “I would want to know…” scenario.

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My final piece of advice on this matter is actually quite wise advice from another.

“Beginning today, treat everyone you meet as if they were going to be dead by midnight. Extend to them all the care, kindness and understanding you can muster, and do it with no thought of any reward. Your life will never be the same again.” -Og Mandino

All Things New

It seems that Spring has finally arrived here in Indiana!  After a relentless “bi-polar vortex” Winter, the sound of birds singing and green sprouts pushing upward bring an even greater appreciation of warm weather than usual.

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(photo by Heidi Jasper)

I think Isaiah was prophesying for Hoosiers when he wrote: “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.  See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?  I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”  Isaiah 43:18-19 

Sometimes a celebration of beauty is a struggle.  It can be difficult to find and appreciate beauty around when you feel like you are sinking in despair and depression.  This is when you need to seek out beauty the most!  Do something for yourself:  Go for a walk, go for a drive, go for a coffee – just go!  Now find one small thing that turns up the corners of your mouth.  For me, it was the buds on my lilac bush that, no matter how my husband tries to bring about its demise, still holds on and buds out every year.  No flowers yet, mind you, but at least bits of green and eventually glossy leaves appear.

Day to day life will have its ups and its downs; there is no denying that fact.  Some days will be mountaintops, and some days will be deep valleys, and some days will be deserts.  But most days will be somewhere in meadows, or rolling hills, or calm forests.  Claim these middle-ground days for when you are struggling through the valley or desert.

The battle of life is, in most cases, fought uphill; and to win it without a struggle were perhaps to win it without honor. If there were no difficulties there would be no success; if there were nothing to struggle for, there would be nothing to be achieved.

-Samuel Smiles