Friday, July 31, 2009

Finding Hope

I walk slowly along the edge of the Chesapeake Bay when the tide and my energy level are at their lowest. The desire to spend a day seeking God led to the decision to fast lunch and spend a few hours in quiet reflection. Now at three in the afternoon, I'm tired, hungry and want a nap. My spirit wants to connect with my creator in some meaningful way, but I have trouble convincing the rest of myself to cooperate.

At high tide, you can't walk along this particular area of the bay, but now at low tide there are a few feet of waterlogged sand exposed. Starting with the first step, my sneakers sink too low in the spongy sand. The air has the unpleasant scent of a swamp - the decay of plants, insects and fish, along with pockets of stale water here and there. The gnats are being their normal annoying selves and as they flit from plant to plant, they continuously bump into me.

My walk is slow and careful, as I step over all the creepy, crawly insects on the ground. I pause a second after stepping over a dead praying mantis. I realize that though I had seen many praying mantises over the years, I have never seen a dead one. Guess they have to die also, I reason to myself.

The ugly, straggly branches of a greedy plant force me to walk out nearer to the water's edge as it inconsiderately covers my path in its reach for the water. As I do this, I step over a small puddle of water that apparently missed the receding flow of the tide. More loss, this time a crab lays there dead.
My mind sluggishly talks to God about this, why is there so much loss and sadness? It is so hard to have these obstacles, I tell him. Why do I have to keep walking over and around them? This kind of feels like my life recently, sadness due to loss and conditions that hound me every step of the way. With a muddled mind and hot, humid air surrounding me, I am ready to end this depressing walk.

But - a stubborn speck of resolve pushes me on. I want to get through this - ‘this’ being both this walk and the unwanted circumstances in my life. So half-heartedly, I continue while brushing tears from my eyes and watching more dirty sand collect on my previously white sneakers.

I round a slight bend and abruptly stop in both my physical and mental walk. There is a burst of beauty and color. Wild plants ramble through each other in a beautiful unkempt way - bulrushes, iris, hibiscus and trumpet vine. Butterflies gracefully hurry here and there, looking for the sweetest nectar. A dragonfly from an attractive family line pauses briefly on a leaf directly in front of me. The stark colors of his delicate wings shimmer in the afternoon sunlight that reflects off the still waters of the bay.

A spot of dry sand nearby allows me to sit down and soak in the beauty of it. This beauty and creativity feeds the sad places in me and fills me with hope. Seeing this vibrant, beautiful life, I recognize the truth that even when walking on difficult paths, there is beauty somewhere. These specks of clarity bring about a calm, peaceful state of mind. I find comfort and strength and know that by seeking the one who made it all, I will come to places where I find beauty and hope

Monday, July 27, 2009

Thinks I Like

Some Things I Like ...
(in random order)
the beach


my men

paths leading to new places

contentment in the middle of tough circumstances


committed workers



this chair

What are some things you like?

Monday, July 20, 2009

Thoughts about expressing sympathy

I'm not an expert in this, but in thinking about the passing of Robert Miller - I put together these thoughts* about what might be appropriate to say and/or put in a card when expressing sympathy to a family member or a friend. Your comments should express sorrow at the pain the person is experiencing and not make a judgment or an assumption.

Thoughts you could say or write:

  • "I'm sorry."
  • "I'm sorry for your loss."
  • "Please let me know if there anything I can do."
  • "You are in my thoughts and prayers."
  • "I'm so sorry (he/she) is no longer here with us."
  • "(He/She) was a wonderful person."
  • "I remember ... " Share something positive about the person (keep it brief)

Things you probably shouldn't say or write

  • "At least, (He/She) is not suffering any more."
  • "I understand your grief and/or loss."
  • "God has a purpose for this."
  • "I know what you are feeling." (rarely do 2 people feel the same)
  • "Everything happens for a reason."
  • "(He/She) is in a better place."
  • "God won't give you more than you can handle."
  • "Are you feeling better yet?"
What thoughts have you heard if/when you've lost a loved one that meant a lot to you and what thoughts did you not like hearing?

*Some of these I gathered from other sites/sources, others are mine

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Your Blood is Needed!

The family of Robert Miller posted this on his site recently ...

"Robert has already received over 50 units of blood, straining a blood supply system that has been struggling to stay ahead of demand. Please give blood regularly if you can! We aren't sure if Robert's insurance will pay for all of the blood products, but if you are in the area and donate to the Keystone Blood Bank, you can donate in his name; it will be credited to his account if his insurance doesn't cover everything."

So if you can - give blood in Robert's name to
Keystone Blood Bank

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

An Answer for One of Life's Issues

With running and biking lately,
I've been eating more bananas and this solution caught my attention.

An answer to a tough problem involving bananas

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Running versus Biking

In January, I started to run and I've been running 2 to 3 miles a few times a week since then. It's been nice to feel my body get stronger slowly, but surely. I have to balance my runs and the rest of life carefully - if I'm on my feet a few hours for something else, then I might have to push my run off a day and/or my run has to be shorter.

Earlier this summer, I rode Jerry's sister's comfort bike and was surprised how great it felt to bike - it didn't stress my legs out as much as running does. I promptly began researching bikes and found one that I liked. I've been happily biking a few times a week (from 4 to 10 miles) the past month. I even did a 19-mile ride on a nice gravel trail with some friends. So I began a routine of running one day, biking the next, then taking a day off. It's good balance for my body. I still want to run - I've been a runner since 1994. After the accident I didn't know if I would ever run again, so I'm thrilled to do it again, but I'm finding that I like biking better and most days I would rather bike, than run.

Plus this summer our "Running ... because I can Club" switched from meeting Monday nights to Tuesday nights. And for some reason, messing with the schedule has messed with my drive/desire to run (so nice I have something to blame it on!) We are now meeting at my friend Patsy's house. Patsy has a pool and a hot tub, so I should have motivation to run, so I can come back to jump into them. Running 2 miles at club tonight was torture - everything hurt and I had no energy. I kept telling myself about the joy of finishing and the cool pool and hot hottub that would be waiting for me - didn't work well, I hated every minute of it.

Tomorrow I have another bike ride scheduled with friends - we are doing 20 some miles on the Perkiomen Valley Trail. I am excited and ready to go and already thinking about where/when the next bike ride could be. Just don't ask me to run right now.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Prayers needed

I've had this experience a few times the past 5 years, and it's back - praying for someone after they've been severely injured in an accident. It's always an odd feeling - realizing this is what my family and friends went through 5+ years ago.
Today prayers are needed for Robert Miller - he was injured in a motorcycle accident on Saturday afternoon and flown to Reading Hospital with multiple injures to his pelvis, abdomen, arms, etc. His condition is critical at this time.
I know most of Robert's family. I've been friends with his sister Cindy Schwartz for about twenty years. Cindy and her sister Karen Hertzler go to the same church I do. Please pray for him and for the family - he has three children.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Interesting comments about Christians

I am happy to call myself a follower of God and of Jesus. But at times, I don't want to call myself a Christian, because there are so many negative associations with being a Christian. Below is a portion of an article that lists five of them. After I read it, I was reminded that I have control over my behavior and if I do or don't do the things listed I contribute to the negative image of a Christian - Jesus, help me be authentic and live with integrity.

Listening to the Formerly Unchurched by Thom Rainer - LifeWay

My team did some interviews with the formerly unchurched. These were men and women who had been Christians less than a year. They were able to give us some keen insights about their lives as unchurched, non-Christians, especially since those days were in the recent past.

One of the more fascinating times in our interviews took place when we asked them what they didn’t like about Christians. We asked them to specify issues, attitudes, actions, and words that turned them away from the church and the gospel.

They gave us an ear full.

Five Negatives

Though the responses varied in their specific wording, we were able to group the negatives into five major categories. So what it is that the unchurched don’t like about Christians? Some of the responses hit too close to home for my comfort.

I don’t like Christians who treat other Christians poorly. The unchurched don’t expect us Christians to be perfect, but they can’t understand why we treat each other without dignity and respect. “I thought Christians were supposed to love one another,” Sandy from Pennsylvania told us. “But the more I observed Christians, the more I thought they really didn’t like each other.”

I don’t like “holier-than-thou” attitudes. The unchurched know that Christians will make mistakes, and they often have a forgiving attitude when we mess up. But they are repulsed when Christians act in superior ways to them “It would help,” said Bailey of Tampa, “if Christians showed just a little humility.”

I don’t like Christians who talk more than they listen. Many of the unchurched, at some point, have a perception that a Christian is a person who can offer a sympathetic and compassionate ear. Unfortunately, many of the unchurched thought Christians were too busy talking to listen to them.

I don’t like Christians who won’t get involved in my life. One of the many surprises of our study was discovering how much many unchurched persons would like to have a Christian as a friend. Yet very few Christians are willing to invest their lives in the messy world that evangelism requires.

I don’t like Christians who don’t go to church. The unchurched saw the disconnect between belief and practice in the lives of Christians who did not or who rarely attended church. “You would think that Christians would want to have the time together to worship and study,” noted Frances. “But I am amazed how many Christians just are not committed to any church.”

I have learned much from the world of the unchurched. And I know I still have much yet to learn. - Thom Rainer, Full article here

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Today's Numbers

After noon, it will be 12:34:56 7-8-09

And later today it will be 04:05:06 07-08-09

Monday, July 06, 2009

Finding the Right Words

Over the past few years, I have written a lot of words - I've written the SFD (borrowed from Anne Lamont) about our 6-month trip across the country, our accident in California, my 'almost death' and my recovery from severe injuries. Now I am in the middle of rewriting and I need 'lightning' words to make my boring writing come alive.
The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug. ~Mark Twain