Tag Archives: perspective

Ramblings on Refugees

I’m challenged by the Syrian refugee issue. I don’t know the right answer. On one hand, I feel compassionate to people who live in a horrible place, made that way by war. I don’t believe people deserve to live that way and I don’t believe the majority of them have the power or capacity to change their country/region. As a human and a person of faith, I am called to help, to be compassionate and caring.

On the other hand, as a thinking person living in a free country with a culture vastly different from where this war is taking place, I feel cautious. We have seen many examples of the hate manifested in attacks on innocent people. People who did nothing to deserve it. I feel the need to protect my family, my home and my way of life. I think that’s fair on my part.

How then do I reconcile the two? How does one show compassion for hurting people and at the same time provide safety and security for their own family? I really would like to hear how others have resolved this conflict personally.

My thoughts – First, I think you have to identify if it’s a real threat. Is it the kind of “perceived threat” we feel when we see someone who looks different from us? Or the real threat of someone who likely intends to do harm? I think in this case it’s both. There are desperate people who need help. They need the basics of food, shelter and safety. And among them there are people who are evil. People who will use our compassion against us. People who will give up their own lives to hurt us. Both are real.

It seems this issue is like every other; there are only extremes. My feed is filled with calls to reject all refugees or risk death, to close the borders quickly. And with claims of willingness to open their own homes to refugees, to let them all come. Either you believe the refugees are a threat which makes you a heartless, cruel Christian who picks and chooses when to follow your faith. Or you think we should open the doors wide and welcome everyone in which makes you naïve and willing to risk the freedoms our forefathers fought to gain. People who are against bringing refugees to this country forget what our ancestors went through to get here. People willing to bring refugees to this country forget the danger and evil that exist in the world. There is no in between.

Is bringing refugees to our home, our country the only way to help them? Is there another solution that is somewhere in between? It seems like if we take a breath, step back a moment, we can come up with a solution that cares for those in need and maintains some level of security for this country. (Ya, I know, I’m living in a fantasy world to think anywhere is safe!) At the very least is there a place for conversation without name calling? Is there a place for an intelligent, thoughtful conversation without resorting to hyperbole and extremism? Can we articulate our ideas and opinions with our own words rather than an exaggerated meme? Is it possible to hear someone else’s thoughts and opinions and validate their concerns? Is it so risky to acknowledge that you can understand where someone else is coming from? Or must we shut down and label those who might see the world differently? Is there a place for a real conversation?

I don’t know if that exists anymore.

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Filed under Faith, Intention, Legacy, The State of Affairs

New

Happy New Year! It is 2015 – a brand spanking new year!

All clean and crisp with no dings or scratches.

Yet.

Like a new notebook, I love a new year. And this year, I am especially excited to turn the virtual calendar page. 2014 will be remembered as one of the toughest yet. It was a year full of emotions; excitement, pride, fear, apprehension, relief, and extreme sadness. I felt emotions at a depth I don’t think I have before. And many in such a short span of time. I never envisioned my strongest grief coming in the midst of huge milestones for my children. But the world did not stop for us. It never does when someone is deep in grief. It kept spinning seemingly faster and faster. It is ironic, the way really significant moments can be eclipsed by the momentous things.

The end of 2013 we said goodbye to our family pet Gracie after 10 years and I said goodbye to a very comfortable job of nearly 7 years.  At the same time Hubby changed positions at his company and move to a much less stressful position, I took the helm at a new organization going through huge transition. We were prepared for changes in the year ahead.

We had no idea.

Change is hard. Good or bad causes, wanted or unwanted, it’s always challenging.

Losing my dad, sending our Middle Son off to a summer internship and then college, it was all hard. It was a season of loss.

But I would be remiss if I didn’t also highlight the beautiful, gracious and inspired things that happened as well.

I gained understanding I didn’t know I was missing. I developed a much more personal understanding of loss and have found myself in a position to support others in their grief. I would not have had that understanding had I not experienced that loss.

I stumbled onto a class that provided me a network of colleagues to learn and grow from, and where I am encouraged in my professional endeavors.

I have seen my boys each grow up, becoming more compassionate and more responsible for themselves. They have stepped in to fill gaps left by my grief, they have taken charge of their own futures in made plans and decisions to move forward. It is so encouraging to see the plans they are making.

I have developed deep friendships. Women with whom I can share the ugly parts of me and not be judged. Priceless.

Life is scary, but I am stronger than I thought. I can survive. And yet, I am fragile. I am deserving of the tenderest of care and compassion.

I have learned that life is fragile. That nothing is forever. It is up to me to make right with people and with myself. I can’t control when my time comes, but I can know that I have no regrets. Nothing left unsaid.

And I still know how to write. Thought maybe I forgot that:).

Cheers to a new year! Full of new opportunities, adventures, challenges and I’m sure sadness and disappointment.

Regardless, I’m looking forward to New!

 

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Filed under Legacy

Not a Dreamer After All

I used to fancy myself a dreamer. A possibility thinker. I remember the ambitions I had as a teen. I was going to move away, to bigger and better things. Blaze my own trail and leave a lasting mark on the world. Maybe international business? Live abroad? The skies were wide open and the possibilities were endless.
Somewhere along the way, my world shrunk. The ideal became a little less lofty and I started to think more about what is attainable. I began thinking in terms of what was reasonable and realistic. Sort of the “Let’s face it you’re never going to…” mentality.
Somewhere along the way between the world-is-your-oyster high school years and the middle-aged, near-empty-nester year, I became a realist.
Maybe it was becoming a parent, or buying a house or some other step of adulthood that changed me. But it’s ok. For me. It’s ok to think practically, to be realistic about the future.
However, I think it does my kids a disservice when I can’t embrace their dreams. When I burst their bubbles with my “realistic” views on life. It limits them. It squelches their creativity and instills doubt.
In my effort to paint an honest picture of life, to give them a realistic perspective on what the grown up world is like, I take away the option to dream. The freedom to dream the big, hairy, audacious dreams. The ones that scare the bejeebers out of you and excite you at the same time.
I have only recently come to realize this about myself. I have a dear friend who lets her kids dream. In fact she supports their dreams. And prays for their dreams. Even the big, unrealistic, pie-in-the-sky dreams! I admire that. And yet I don’t do it.
It’s hard to shut off the logical, ordered, down-to-earth, focus-on-what-is-realistic part of my brain and engage the dreamer again.
We all need to dream! Especially young people. There is a great, big, world out there and the ability to envision yourself changing it is priceless. Without the belief that you can make your dreams come true, what do you have? What pushes you, drives you and makes you revise that idea/paper/design one more time? What makes you reach a tiny bit farther, try that move one more time, reach out to one more person?
We must be able to dream.
We must be able to create and nurture our own dreams without doubt standing behind us whispering in our ear.
I don’t want to be the doubt for my kids. I want to be the voice in their head that says, “If this is what I really want, I’m going to make it happen!”
So go, my sons, dream really big dreams! Imagine, what if…! Put your heart into your dreams, work your 10,000 hours! Become the expert you want to be!
I believe in you!

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Filed under Advice, Family, Goals, Legacy, Parenting

Anything But Content

I feel like my heart is raw. Like a wound that keeps getting torn open, again and again. There is no time to heal. There is no balm for my soul.
It is as though I’m running on a sandy beach, feet sinking deep into the warm sand making each step a little harder than the last. I know I need to keep going, but it’s so difficult.

I want to stop the world, stop all the change in my life, to regroup, to get my bearings again. I want to mourn and wallow, and feel sorry for myself. I want to cry until there are no more tears. And some days I do. But the next day they return, flowing strong and steady.

I’m going through the motions, but feel like my world is spinning out of control on the inside. Like the merry-go-round that I used to ride as a kid. The one that terrified me and made me feel ill. The one that spun and spun and left me puking in the grass.

I’m trying to be present. To be focused on the things that are big in my kids lives. The changes and challenges they face. I’m trying to be the mom they need me to be. But it’s so very hard.

I don’t want to take care of anyone else right now. I don’t want to problem solve with them or be their shoulder to cry on. I want my Dad back. I want to remember him, to think about the stories he told, to hear his voice again. I want him to not be gone. And I’m having a hard time focusing on anything else.

I guess I’m just shocked at how hard it is. I didn’t know it would be like this.

It has only been a few weeks. But life has gone on at breakneck speed. Work keeps happening, the house needs to be cleaned, the bills need to be paid the pictures need editing. There are college orientations and teenage transitions and all kinds of life still happening.

It all just keeps going. And I try to hide the tears when they come at work. I try to focus on my health and Bible study. I try to move forward. And yet I just want to cry.

A lot.

I find myself thinking of all the people who have gone through this before me. The people who seemed to keep going like their world hadn’t fallen apart when I know it had. They kept it together. I know they had to be hurting just like me, but they made it through. They went through the motions. They put one foot in front of the other and kept going. And I had no idea how hard it must have been.

I’m sorry.

I’m sorry I didn’t know what you were going through. I’m sorry I didn’t remember those things that would bring back the tears. I just didn’t know.

I am thankful to those who have been where I am today. Thankful for their understanding; for their notes and cards and texts.

I’m grateful I’m not going through this alone.

But most of all I’m thankful that I know I will see him again. That I believe life isn’t over at death. I believe in heaven and the afterlife. I am thankful that despite missing him terribly, I know that I will see him again. And that helps. It doesn’t take away the pain, but it gives me hope.

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Filed under Faith, Family, Legacy, Thankful

A Work in Progress

Letting go of what I cannot control has been weighing heavy on my heart this week. I have been faced with a couple situations where I have no control over the outcome or actions of others, despite a big emotional investment. I know most of the time we don’t have control, but this week I have been faced with situations where it really hurts my heart. Where my soul just aches and I can’t do anything to fix it. That’s not the part I’m working on. I think God is working on my heart, helping me to learn how to let go of those things that I cannot change. Acknowledging the pain, the hurt, the angst, the heartache, but not letting that rule me. Figuring out how to acknowledge that pain, accept it and let go of it. It is so easy to let it derail me. To become absorbed in that hurt or uncertainty and sit there. But oh so unhealthy. I believe God is working on my heart to understand I can lean on Him to get through it. It really does mean being intentional; making a choice not to go there. Acknowledging the pain and choosing not to focus on it. A good cry helps. And a good cleaning project. But then let it go.

I guess it’s about trusting God with the outcome.

Easier said than done. I find it challenging to listen to what God is calling me to do and how He is calling me to respond. It’s hard for me to separate out what I want and what I think God wants of me. Is it my desire or His leading? How much is too much effort on my part? If it is supposed to be, it will be. But that makes me think of the story of the man stranded in a flood. He turns down all the people who come to help him because God will save him. He perishes and when he faces God he complains that God didn’t save him to which God replies, dude I tried and you turned down all the help I sent! {OK, so maybe God didn’t say dude, but that’s how I picture it happening:).}

How do I discern when God is sending me a lifeline or when I’m stretching to grasp something I shouldn’t? I suppose that is the question of the ages. I’m probably not the first person to ask. But I do think God is working on my heart in how I handle or respond to those situations out of my control.

When things happen that leave me feeling left out, hurt or rejected. When I’m hurt by the actions or in-actions of others, how do I respond? How do I move past the hurt, try to see the good intentions and ultimately let it go? I cannot control the actions of others. I can only learn from the experience. I can ask myself, when have I been the one on the other side of a situation like this? Where can I improve the way I am treating others? Have I done the same thing to someone else without even realizing the hurt I was causing? Probably.

I guess its about leaning on God to get me through the pain and to open my eyes to the hurt I cause others.

I am a work in progress.

And I am thankful I know God is there to carry me through when my heart hurts too much to go it alone.

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Filed under Faith, Intention

3 Awesome Things

I’m in a bit of a funk. Feeling unsettled, out of sync, just kind of ughish. (Ya, I just made that word up.) It happens. And I’m working my way out of it. It may have to do with the end of the summer being here. Or the anticipation of sending Oldest Son back to college. Maybe it is the valley after some mountaintop experiences. Whatever the cause, I’m ready to move beyond it!

As I was thinking about it (something my Middle Brother says I do way too much of) I was reminded of the need to fill my head with positive thoughts. I am a big believer in mind over matter. I know we control much of what happens in our lives by the way we think about, respond to and remember events. It is really easy to take yourself down a dreary path of self-doubt or second guessing.

My solution:

Awesome Things!

I’m starting a new weekly post called Three Awesome Things! I’ll pick a topic each week and share Three Awesome Things! Maybe you even have some suggestions for me?! Let me hear them! I’ll do my best:). Let’s fill our heads with awesomeness!

But you’ll have to wait for tomorrow for this week’s Three Awesome Things! Oh, the anticipation!!!

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Filed under 3 Awesome Things, Lifestyle, Positive

Renewing Me

I’m in one of those seasons where all the planets align, the things stack up and despite my best efforts I’m totally over committed. It’s frustrating since I’ve been very intentional this year (it is my word for the  year after all) about where I choose to spend my time and energy. I’ve been selective about what I commit to and turned away opportunities. And yet, I find myself, right now, in an icky place. It seems everywhere I turn someone wants a piece of me.

I think some of it is a convergence activities ramping up in anticipation of school starting, end of summer rush, work commitments and a thriving photography business. Right now I am coordinating a family reunion, lead on two major programs at work, preparing for the back to school rush and editing thousands of photos from recent shoots. It’s all good stuff and I’m glad for each of them. It’s just unfortunate that they all come to a head in a months time. There isn’t much breathing room.

Which leads to the feeling of everyone wanting a piece of me. I can manage it for a while, taking things in stride, making decisions on the fly and putting out fires (although I would really rather they not erupt to begin with). But then I reach the tipping point. When I know I need to step away or I might be incredibly, obnoxiously, inappropriate to the next person who asks me for something. Thank goodness I can usually feel this total loss of filter coming on!

I felt it last week. Dreaming of a vacation I can’t take – because I don’t have the cash {2 words: Disney vacation and College tuition. Ok that was 4, but you get it.} or the time. There simply isn’t a time to get away.

So I booked my own mental vacation.

Yesterday I spent the entire day working in my yard. Like from 8 am to 8 pm. And boy can I feel it today! I’m walking like a 90-year-old woman with arthritis; pain with every step. And it feels amazing! There is something about working til your bones are weary. About focusing on one thing and one thing only. Tuning out the rhetoric, the demands, the requests and to do lists. Just doing physical labor. Today I can tackle my projects with a renewed energy and a much better attitude. I’m ready to give things the attention and care they need.

Taking a little time for me, a break from all the demands, even if it was for hard physical labor, renewed me. And my yard looks amazing! It should after 19 bags of mulch, 8 new plants, 12 hours and 1880 pounds of rock moved. Enjoy some pictures of the fruits of my labor.

DSC_0505-002

Those rocks are so much heavier than they appear!DSC_0525-001

They may look random, but it’s really hard to make things look random!DSC_0534-001

Really it is. DSC_0507-002

I now have wild raspberry. I think that’s a good thing.DSC_0510-002

Why, yes we are ISU fans!DSC_0530-001

A combo of nursery plants and splits from others – my favorite way to get and give plants!DSC_0512-002

The wall is still holding up a year later. Guess we did that right so far. DSC_0516-002

Finally got the front beds mulched. Looks so much more finished this way. DSC_0518-002

Coral Belles are my friend!DSC_0520-002

And a couple shots of some great foliage. Love the intensity of the colors. DSC_0521-002

I am definitely partial to the deep purple, but love the contrast of the bright green.DSC_0524-002   And I ended the day with a fire in the pit. Peace.

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Filed under Health, Home Improvement, Intention