Most People Are Barely Hanging On

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I’ll be honest with you, there are moments when my heart is so heavy. There are many times when I find myself fighting back tears. I mean, yes, I have my own issues and problems that I am dealing with, as we all do, but I am really talking more about feeling compassion and empathy for others. I don’t know if it is an age thing or because I am choosing to slow down and listen to other people more.

I want to try, really try, to have eyes like Jesus. To see people the way He sees them. The hurting, the tired, the forgotten, the needy, the scared, the overwhelmed, the anxious, the pained and the lost.

Struggles are real. People hurt. This broken world tips sharply on its axis, making us all dizzy from the pain… Dare I say that anyone who says they don’t suffer is lying to you? Or to him or herself?

As a child I used to wish I could have the super power of reading peoples minds. I thought it would be cool to know what they were thinking…a great party trick. The decades have slipped past and although I have never been able to read minds, I have gotten better at reading hearts. (Thank you, Jesus.)

*A student who anxiously tells me, “I hope my grandfather makes it to mine and my brother’s graduation. I told him he has too, but I just don’t know. If he doesn’t, I will be so sad.”

*Aging parents with hard diagnoses, having to live with something they never asked for. Grown children realizing that time stops for no one, including their parents, and that particular knowledge is difficult.

*The young adult who finds himself in a place of his own making…realizing it is not where he really wants to be. Each day the work to change is hard and he is tired.

*The young woman who constantly wonders if she is good enough?

*The new parents who are outwardly excited, but inwardly terrified at the realization of being mom and dad, and doing it “right”.

*The man whose job is on the line, and he feels he is too old to start over.

*The woman who is divorced, raising her kids and working hard to provide.

*The children who make the poor choices.

*The babies that are caught in the middle.

*The friend who cries in the shower at night because life is overwhelming, but smiles during the day.

*Prayers during surgeries.

*Crying over the death of loved ones.

My prayer is to have the eyes and the heart of Jesus for others. To meet people where they are at. To hold a hand…to hold a heart. To sometimes whisper words of comfort, or have a shoulder to cry on. To talk to them, or just be quiet and listen. Help where I can, and stand back when necessary. I don’t always know the right thing to do but, I am trying….. Thank you, Jesus.

When the Lord <Jesus> saw her, He felt compassion for her, and said to her, “Do not weep.” Luke 7:13

Seeing the people, He <Jesus> felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. Matthew 9:36

When He <Jesus> went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and felt compassion for them and healed their sick. Matthew 14:14

…and said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to Him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus wept. So the Jews were saying, “See how He loved him! John 11:34-38 <after His friend, Lazarus, had died>

For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One <Jesus> who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Hebrews 4:15

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Walking Through Unfamiliar Territory

It has been months since I have made a blog post, three and a half months to be exact. I miss not blogging, but for those of us that live our lives know, that sometimes the day to day can bog us down. I wanted to write but, I was tired. I wanted to share but, I was busy. I thought about typing but, duties called. Now finally, I have a few minutes on a sunny September afternoon to post on what I am thinking at this moment in time.

Life is hard.

This statement probably doesn’t come as a surprise to many. You know. You feel it too. I’m currently fifty-one years old. Most days in my own head I feel younger, like I don’t belong in a body that has already lived through five decades. The truth is, I thought when I was in my fifties life would be easier. Young enough to still enjoy life, wise enough to appreciate it. But, it isn’t easier.

Kids grow up. They make their own decisions. It doesn’t matter whether I agree or disagree with choices being made. Sometimes the thought of that is freeing and at other times it hurts. Anyone that has grown, twenty-something children probably understands what I am saying. I have to accept that when I look at my children, I am looking into the faces of adults. Adults who are making their own way, in their own time, and I pray for wisdom for us all.

Family members who are facing difficult situations. Decisions that are stressful, diagnoses that debilitate, and an understanding that change is happening. Change. I hate that word right now. When the doctor gives the news it seems so unfair. So wrong. I try not to dwell on things, but the thoughts are always in the back of my mind tearing away at memories.

At times I am strong and fierce. I know myself and understand my role. At other times I am weak from the tears and the longing for what once was. On some days I am fine, happy, and all is well. I feel in control. Other days not so much. That is the thing. I am not in control. I never was. The thought of having control over my life is just a flimsy facade. On days when I let this realization take hold I am so very grateful that I know the ONE who is in control. The ONE who is not chained to calendars and clocks, who is not phased by the movement of time. He who knows each of us intimately and is never surprised by the doctor’s diagnoses, or children’s decisions. Jesus who never leaves me nor forsakes me, who said there is nothing that can keep us apart.

Thank you, Jesus.

35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?… <my words: or doctor’s diagnoses, or growing up children, or autoimmune disease, or mistakes, or misunderstandings or…..anything>

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:35, 37-39 ESV

Being Seen

Last week there was a knock at my door. The dogs were going crazy. I glanced out the kitchen window and saw an orange jeep in the driveway. I don’t know anyone with an orange jeep. I figured I’d find out, as I walked to the laundry room door, keeping my barking, maniac dog at bay.

“Are you Dawn?”, a kind face asked. “Yes”, I replied. The woman introduced herself as she handed me a container full of cookies. “You like cookies, I hope?”. “Yes, I do”.

“I left my husband doing yard work at home”, she said with a smile. “I told him I was going to meet Dawn”. I felt humbled. Truth is, it was nice to meet her.

This woman standing on my porch, is the bus driver on my rural road. Even though I no longer have school age children, I would always be outside feeding the horse and chickens in the early morning hours when she went by. She would cheerily honk the bus horn at me and I would wave. I never saw her face. I didn’t know her name. I did know that she made me smile each morning as we both participated in our regular morning routine.

As the school year was drawing to an end, and summer break was awaiting, I decided to send her a card through the school transportation department. I just wanted her to know I appreciated her. I wanted her to know that something as simple as a friendly bus horn honk each morning made me happy. It made me glad to live on a country road.

I am trying to be more mindful of my interactions with people. A smile to someone, a genuine compliment, an act of kindness. We are all in this life together, and sometimes it is just the simple act of “seeing” someone else that can have a profound effect.

Every Moment An Adventure

Her hair is a wild halo of brown curls. She pushes it off her face with a quick swipe of her small hand. Her arm has the remnants of a purple marker, a reminder of her artistic ability that will wash off at her next bath. She is full of energy, bouncing and jumping, running and riding. Her bounce horse is sporting a pair of jingle bells for the season. They ring loudly as she rides her horse into the last lap, heading for home! Her sweet childish laughter rings out, infecting all those around her with a smile. I believe it is impossible to be sad when in the company of this sweet toddler. She is the pint-size embodiment of blazing hot sunshine….not the sunshine of a warm summer day, more like her going 100 mph with her hair on fire. Just sayin’.

Socks on and socks off, slippers next. In the life of a toddler, clothes are a necessary evil. It is so much easier to run and jump unencumbered without the restrictions of pants and a shirt. Striped leggings, butterfly wings, and Nana’s cat socks. Colors and softness and all things cozy. Fashion sense is less about sensibility and more about fun and freedom. 

A small voice that is just learning to sing Old McDonald’s Farm and Jesus Loves Me floats on the air from the backseat. I turn around to look and she is swaying back and forth to the music in her head. Her PopPop and I sing along. At the end of the impromptu concert, we get a not-standing ovation, clapping her hands and saying, “Good job!” My heart melts and leaks happiness all over.

Thank you, Let’s go!, and Outside?, are favorite words, ones that are used most often. Last night we read Olivia- Countdown to Christmas. In the world of children’s literature, Olivia is a little girl pig. She found the story fascinating and enjoyed sticking Olivia stickers all over the book. That is part of the fun! Being engaged with her and what she is doing is exhausting, and enlightening, and worth every single minute.

Every moment is an adventure. Every day a blessing. 

Psalm 139 13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. 16 Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

Enjoying The Moments

Winter has come early. Last Friday it snowed, and today we have a coating of freezing rain. The school district wisely closed for the day because things are pretty slick out there. I still got up at my regular time of 5:30am because I enjoy my morning quiet, it is my time before the rest of my family begins to stir. 

I have my hot coffee (with dairy-free almond milk vanilla creamer). I have a load of laundry going, fed all the pets and let them out to take care of business. Now, I get to sit and just enjoy… for the moment.

The front window is covered in icy freezing rain so the world looks distorted as I gaze out onto the side yard. The smaller kitchen window, protected by the deck roof gives a better view. The sky is a cold gray, smoky smudges on the outside pallet. The wind gauge is quickly spinning around telling me the breeze is going to be cold this morning on my walk over to the barn. The grass looks crunchy coated in the coolness of ice. 

Thanksgiving is just a week away. Time is quickly slipping through the hourglass, and I don’t feel ready. I haven’t shopped for the big meal yet. (How long does a turkey have to thaw again?) Anyone that knows me, knows Christmas truly is my most wonderful time of the year. I love to decorate! With that said, I also love Thanksgiving. For me, it is a time to ponder and think about the year past and all the things big and small that I am thankful for. I don’t want to forget thankfulness….gratefulness….blessings in the midst of the frantic and hectic holiday season. 

So thankful for: 

*family *a loving husband that I genuinely enjoy hanging with *my young adult children–they are good kids *my grandchildren–there is nothing better than being a grandparent *a warm house that God blessed us with 9 years ago *Warm blankets *furry friends *a full refrigerator *hot drinks *colorful socks *a comfy bed *yummy dairy-free ice cream (it doesn’t matter how cold it is, ice cream always) *friends, old and new *plans with my peeps *Christmas shopping *my mom, who is my biggest encourager and without whom I would not be the woman I am today *my sister whose funny texts keep me laughing *my master’s degree *my students that make me smile, and their families that make me feel like part of the family *

My cup runneth over…

Where God Will Take Him

accomplishment action adult adventure

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He had already been through so much before I even met him. This dark-haired teenager (who was already sporting a beard)  who loved teasing and joking around was to be my new student. This young man had heart surgery just hours after his entrance into this world. He had neurological, skeletal, cardiac and breathing issues. The doctors told his parents their son might never run and might only walk with an odd gait. They said he might talk in a way only those close to him would be able to understand. Over the three years I worked with him, he was in the hospital, had to have respiratory therapy, seen heart doctors, and struggled with academics.

It would be so easy for him to give up. He could have become angry at his lot in life… defiant due to his disabilities. But, that is not my friend, Keith’s, story. He is choosing how his life is going to play out. At twenty-six years old, he is an overcomer. He is not defeated, he is delivered. He has not given up, he has grabbed hold. He does not seek pity, he only wants to push himself.

Keith does not know a stranger. His social life is more exciting then most, and if you want to see him you need to make sure you get on his calendar. He is one busy young man! Keith is not afraid to ask people if they “know Jesus”. His heart might not be typical for one his age, but it is big. His heart is big because he loves people. His sweet innocent spirit is refreshing in what can sometimes be viewed, by most, to be a cynical and difficult world.

A couple of years ago, Keith got involved in adaptive climbing. He has conquered competitive climbing, winning in national competitions, and is now on his way to represent the USA in the World Paraclimbing Championship in Innsbruck, Austria in about a week and a half. I am praying for Keith as he travels from Ohio, USA, half way around the world to compete. I am proud of him.

God often times will expand our horizons beyond what we seek. A couple of years ago, Keith had no idea where God would take him. The same goes for each of us. No matter where you might find yourself right now, even if you are in a seemingly impossible spot, God can make a way when there seems to be no way. All things are possible with God.

This is one of my favorite verses, and a wonderful reminder for us all.

For nothing will be impossible with God.” Luke 1:37 ESV

 

Another Classmate Gone

I am on an alumni site for my high school in Maryland, class of ’86. Yesterday a friend posted that another one of our classmates had passed away, there have been several. Looking at his high school senior picture, I was reminded that we are not here forever. Oh, most of us live like we are going to be here for a long time, and then expect to die peacefully in our sleep when we are one hundred one.

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Life is short, whether we live to be a centenarian or only take a few short breaths at birth. It is all short in the scope of eternity. This verse comes to mind,
“Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes”. (James 4:14)

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I pray for Mrs. Tia Coleman, the woman who recently lost nine of her family members in the duck boat accident in Branson, Missouri, including her husband and children. From a sweet family picture before their adventure to a horrible storm and tragedy that is changing her life forever.

boat on body of water

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I don’t know about you, but I find myself getting caught up in stuff on a daily basis that doesn’t really matter. My perspective gets skewed, and I worry too much. I waste my days on this and that, robbing myself of the joy of this life. I need to be more mindful of my moments, my memories, even my mundane.

Life is a wonderful gift.

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two person holding hands while sitting on grey cushion

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scenic view of sky during night time

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