Tag Archives: courage

Brand New Day

I’ve written here before about May being like December because of its financial outlays. This year, May reminds me of December for other reasons, too.

rabbit, rabbit, image credit:

rabbit, rabbit, image credit: notsogoodphotography

There’s the over scheduling of events. End of school programs, concerts, field trips, parties, sporting events, conferences, graduations—all squeezed into a few weeks, just like at Christmastime. There are weddings, retirements, and going away parties. There’s May Day, Cinco de Mayo, Mother’s Day, and Memorial Day, not to mention the lesser known holidays like Candied Orange Peel Day, Frog Jumping Day, and Dance Like a Chicken Day. No kidding.

In some parts of the country (Kansas), the seasons are changing. The weather’s finally beginning to level out, if gale force winds can be considered leveling out. At least it’s sunny. Flowers bloom. Winter wheat fields turn from brown to green. Bunnies the size of my dog saunter about the yard. Nature’s in flux, pressing on to summer.

Add to that a stressful life event or two, like moving, and you could wind up dancing like a chicken. The one that flew over the cuckoo’s nest. Yes, change is stressful. Even good change is stressful. We’re allowed that, I think.

We go to sleep in some of the darkest winters of change. We wake up to clouds, gray, drizzle, snow, cold, bleh. Night comes again. Then gray. Then night. Then gray. Again and again. We get up. We sojourn on. Maybe for years.

Then one morning, a little light. The twinkle of an idea.

The whisper, “Hey, this could be the beginning of something beautiful.”

robin

robin, image credit: cruadinx

The next morning, a little more sun. The wink of possibility. The glimpse of a robin or a rabbit, rabbit, creature of habit.

Another morning, and the sky is the brightest shade of blue. The sun, oh, the sun is shining and we are warmed by it. Sweet promise of a brand new day.

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:23 NIV

Hold On by Selah. Originally by Evie.

What are your hopes on this brand new day?

photo credit: notsogoodphotography via photopin cc
photo credit: cruadinx via photopin cc

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Heart of the Matter

Boomer, my yoga instructor, faced a life crisis earlier this spring when her 50-something husband had emergency bypass surgery.

faceted heart

faceted heart

She’s the more talkative of my instructors. Responsible for phrases like Vikings and temple dancers, bellies on vacation, and the duck index.

I like the banter.

“Stretch the myofascial tissue.”

“Stop carrying enormous handbags.” 

“Stand up straight or you’ll end up with a hump on your back and a walker!”

He survived the surgery. She missed a week or so of class. I don’t think she realizes it, but a new theme has surfaced in her coaching.

“Engage your thighs. You should feel them working, pumping blood up, strengthening your heart.” 

“Open your chest. Don’t let it close over your heart and lungs.” 

“Remember to breathe…” 

And then last class, this one.

“It’s amazing how easily the heart gets involved with everything.”

Yes, dear teacher. It is.

Guard your heart above all else,
for it determines the course of your life. Proverbs 4:23 NLT

Nothing Is Wasted, my new favorite song by Jason Gray. Listen. Take courage.

 What’s on your heart today?

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Speak Out

This past weekend, I read an article in The New York Times that crushed me: The Holocaust Just Got More Shocking

That story, coupled with Modern American Poetry’s photo essay of the Holocaust, reminded me of a quote from Martin Niemöller, a Protestant pastor who spoke out against the Nazis and spent seven years in concentration camps.

Niemoller

How could so many people know what was happening right under their noses and not speak out? What do you know about that’s happening right under your nose?

Will you speak out?

Speak out for those who cannot speak… from Proverbs 31:8 NRSV

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Filed under America, words to remember

Be the Groundhog

Taking a cue from Punxsutawney Phil today.

be a fruit loop

as seen at Trios

Skittish about standing out in a crowd? Remember the groundhog. He isn’t afraid. It’s a new day. Wake up. Make your entrance. Watch life get interesting. 

The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
His mercies never cease.
Great is His faithfulness;
His mercies begin afresh each morning. Lamentations 3:22-23 NLT

Good Morning by Mandisa.

Fruit Loops or Cheerios?

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A Time to Speak

In a small town in another state, a 19-year-old woman finds out she’s pregnant. She lives with her widowed mother and has little money. Her baby’s father has abandoned her. The shame of her community presses down on her.

The year is 1970. Unwed motherhood isn’t worn as a status symbol by celebrities. Single parenting isn’t the norm. There are no support groups or pregnancy centers. No 3-D ultrasounds. Abortion is illegal.

If her pregnancy had happened three years later in 1973 when Roe v. Wade legalized abortion in the United States, I wonder if that young woman would have chosen to abort her baby. If so, you wouldn’t be reading this.

That woman was my mother and I was the baby she carried.

Had abortion been legal in 1970, my mother would have been a prime candidate. Poor, unmarried, young, alone, afraid. Strong voices might have coached her choice. She wasn’t ready to parent. She couldn’t support a child. Why not just take care of this matter now?

Fast forward 25 years. My mother was in the fight of her life against cancer. Had euthanasia been legal in America, she would have been a prime candidate for physician-assisted suicide. There was no treatment for her disease. Strong voices might have coached her choice. Why burden her family and the system? Why prolong the inevitable?

My mother was my best friend, compassionate and kind. She died before I, as an adult, could ask her what it was like for her when I was born or what it was like for her to knowingly approach death at age 45.

She died before she could tell her story. I don’t want to do the same.

If Guttmacher’s statistics are anywhere near accurate, someone reading this is a mother or father whose child was aborted. I have no interest in condemning you. You made a legal choice in a heartbreaking, maybe even desperate situation. You may have felt coerced or kept in the dark about what was truly happening. You may harbor regret, sadness, anger, grief, or you may be numb to the experience. There is healing and forgiveness in Christ for you just as there is for me.

Look around. A lot of people are missing who are supposed to be here. It’s estimated more than 54,000,000 Americans have been legally killed by abortion since Roe v. Wade. We cannot comprehend all that was lost with those lives.

My heart aches for what my mother went through and what others face. But killing people is not a life-affirming answer. Not for the child, the parents, the disabled, the elderly, the terminal patient, our families, or our society.

What if we as a nation find ways to care for parents in crisis pregnancies and protect their babies’ lives? Can we resist the deception that euthanasia and abortion give us control without consequences? Will we hold fast to God’s timing in life and death? What does it say about the value of our own lives if we don’t?

I never asked my mother if she was glad she had me; I didn’t have to. Her love, courage, and sacrifices for me told me she was. My husband and son are also glad, and if my dog could speak, she’d tell you the same. And me? Am I glad abortion was illegal when my mother was pregnant with me?

Yes. Unapologetically, yes. I am thankful for life. Are you?

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves;
ensure justice for those being crushed.
Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless,
and see that they get justice. Proverbs 31:8-9 NLT

This is Your Life by Switchfoot.

Who are you missing? What’s your story?
Who will you tell?

Today is the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court case that legalized abortion in the United States. Later this week, I’ll participate for the first time in the March for Life in Washington, D.C. I’d appreciate your prayers.

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Filed under America, family & friends, life, women's studies

Ad Astra per Aspera

Freshly arrived in Kansas last January, I shared our new state’s motto.

ad astra per aspera

ad astra per aspera

Ad Astra per Aspera. 

To the stars with difficulty. No truer words were written.

We’re still in Kansas. Ad Astra per Aspera is still the motto.

We look toward the stars, out there in the space of 2013. There will be difficulties. But thank God, there will be stars.

Thank God for another year lived and a new one to see.

No holds barred. No tears left unshed. No laughter left unleashed.

Here’s to 2013. Let it begin.

I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth. Psalm 121:1-2 ESV

I Will Rise by Shawn McDonald. 

Happy New Year from everyday epistle!

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Reader’s Choice ’12: Whisper

Darin Grimm picked a story I was afraid to publish.

Darin Grimm

Darin Grimm

The subject has torn our country apart. We cannot seem to settle it. The night before this story ran, I recited Psalm 56:3 to myself so I could sleep.

Who would have dreamed Darin, a farmer and president of AgChat Foundation, would be a fan of this post?

“It takes a VERY devisive topic, and presents it in a compassionate way,” he said. “A way that I saw shared by a couple of people that I’m pretty certain see this issue differently than you do.”

There are more stories brewing that scare me. But this one was first.

Darin’s Reader’s Choice is:

Whisper

matchlight

click to read Whisper

readers choice

One month from now, January 22, 2013, will mark 40 years since Roe v. Wade legalized abortion in the United States.

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Filed under America, life, women's studies

The Duck Index

My yoga instructors offer a wealth of material for blog posts. 

Boomer explained a concept I must share with you. Something she learned from her yoga instructor. A practice called the Duck Index.

image by cursedthing, creative commons license

image by cursedthing, creative commons license

Many years ago, Boomer’s instructor gave her this advice: only do what brings you the joy of a three-year-old feeding a duck. 

“We all have to do things we don’t like to do,” said Boomer to my class. “We can’t only do the things we enjoy.”

True. We all deal with dirty dishes, smelly laundry, complicated tax returns.

“But imagine the happiness of a three-year-old feeding a duck,” she said. “We can choose to do more things that give us that kind of joy.”

Boomer put the joy of a three-year-old feeding a duck on a scale of one to 10, with 10 being the greatest. She called the scale the Duck Index and began measuring experiences against it. She started saying no to as many things as she could that didn’t rank six or more on the Duck Index.

No to another volunteer opportunity when her volunteer hours were already maxed out. No to lunch with a demeaning colleague. No to a last-minute dinner with friends when what she needed was a night off.

“I could have done those things,” she said, “but someone would have paid for it. Either I would have paid for it in resentment and fatigue. Or those around me would have paid for it because I didn’t really want to be there.”

Sometimes saying no without guilt is difficult. But the more I do it, the easier it gets. The more it makes sense. 

Do I want to do this? Do I have to do this? 

If I don’t want to and I don’t have to, who will pay if I do it anyway? 

Can I say no to this, so someone who wants to do it can say yes? 

Can I say no, so I can say yes to what I want to do?

“Shoulders back and down. Don’t wear them like earrings,” said Boomer as our class continued. “Pay attention. You control where your shoulders sit.”

I am not the center of the universe. I am not in control of all the events in my life, but I am not a martyr or a victim either. I can place my shoulders back and down. I can say no without guilt. I can say yes to what brings me joy. So can you.

Pay attention. Your duck is waiting to be fed. 

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Ephesians 4:1 NIV

Wake on up from your slumber, baby, open up your eyes.

What scores 10 on your Duck Index?

 

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Filed under life, women's studies

No One Told the Grasshopper

True story.

Last Friday evening, we were on our way to dinner when a grasshopper hitched a ride on our front windshield. He wasn’t smashed to oblivion like other, lesser bugs. He landed alive and held on.

He surfed through traffic and stoplights with us. As we turned onto the highway entrance ramp, I expected him to jump and fly to the grassy prairie. Instead he remained planted on the glass.

grasshopper on windshield

our brave passenger

His olive-colored, stick legs stood sturdy as we accelerated to 70 mph. He was motionless, except for his bright yellow antennae waving in the wind.

How strange, how remarkable he would not be blown away.

We exited the highway. The grasshopper rode through another intersection or two with us. Then he sprang into the sky and disappeared to wherever grasshoppers go.

No one told the grasshopper he couldn’t ride on the windshield. No one told him our car is thousands of times larger than he is.

Grasshoppers are referred to in the Bible in two very different ways: as small, squashable creatures and as powerfully destructive creatures. The grasshopper on our windshield was a little of both. Tiny and fearless.

He seemed at ease with his station in life. Apparently, no one told the grasshopper otherwise.

He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth,
and its people are like grasshoppers.
He stretches out the heavens like a canopy,
and spreads them out like a tent to live in. Isaiah 40:22 NIV

Room at the Top by Adam Ant. The ants know; the ants are industrious.

What extraordinary things have you done when no one told you couldn’t or you didn’t know different?

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The Room Next Door

room next door

room next door

Must have been around 9 p.m. when it began. Shouting rattled our hotel room.

My husband turned up the volume on the TV as the argument continued, peppered with expletives. I picked up the phone.

“Yes, there’s a hostile conversation in the room next door. Well, I think it’s next door. Can you check? It’s really loud.”

We waited. The yelling permeated the walls. My husband called this time.

“Will you send someone up to our floor right away? Sounds like a fight.”

I stood on my toes and watched through the peephole. A man in a uniform appeared and knocked on our neighbors’ door. “Security. Open up.”

A sing-song voice answered. “Everything’s all right in here.”

“Open the door!” said the security guard. He knocked some more, but the door was shut tight and the yelling inside escalated.

“He’s gone!” I said as they guard left. My husband held our wide-eyed son.

elevator going down

elevator going down

The voices cut loose, cursing and screaming. Then we heard what sounded like fists punching a feather pillow in staccato jabs. Thump, thump, thump! 

I grabbed the phone again. “This is the third time we’ve called! You have to do something! Call the police! It sounds like he’s hitting her!”

Through the peephole I watched four officers rush the hall.

“Police!” Bang, bang, bang, they pounded on the door. “Open up!”

“I’m scared,” said our son.

Finally our neighbors opened their door. A middle-aged man dressed in pajamas marched out into the hallway. The police checked his identification.

glasses and cup in the hallway

in the hallway

“Who’s in the room?”

“My wife.”

“Were you yelling at your wife?”

“Yes.”

“You argue with your wife a lot?”

“No.”

“You ever hit your wife?”

Never.”

An officer entered the room. Minutes later, he came out of the room, released the husband, and the police left.

Guess she didn’t want to press charges. No law against punching pillows, right?

clean up, exit

clean up, exit

The room next door was quiet the rest of the night, but our room lost sleep.

Our neighbors were gone by morning. Our business-class hotel was apologetic. No harm done, right?

You keeping things on the down-low? Think no one will ever find out what’s done in secret? Don’t kid yourself.

Sin is never a private affair.

Our behavior impacts those around us. Boils over. Burns bystanders as well as those in our line of fire. Leaves us all in dire need of redemption.

You spread out our sins before You—
our secret sins—and You see them all. Psalm 90:8 NLT

In America, one in four women and one in nine men will suffer physical or emotional violence at the hands of an intimate partner (Centers for Disease Control, 2008).

If you or someone you know is being abused or is an abuser, please reach out for help. Contact local authorities, your pastor, or the National Domestic Violence Hotline 1.800.799.SAFE (7233) or TTY 1-800-787-3224.

What does it mean that secret sin isn’t really secret?

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Along the Way

The day before the Tony’s, I watched an interview with actress Judith Light. Remember Judith from Who’s the Boss?

Judith Light

Judith Light, image from wikipedia

She shared how she started her career with preconceived notions about the types of roles she would and would not accept. When her expectations were unmet and she wasn’t offered the roles she desired, she began to look at what was being offered to her. What doors were open.

A soap opera. A sitcom. Eventually Broadway.

She stopped fighting the current and sailed on it instead.

A day after the interview, Judith was awarded a 2012 Tony for her performance as Silda in Other Desert Cities.

You and I may never win a Tony, an Oscar, a Pulitzer, or a Fortune 500 ranking. But we all sail this current. We all run this race.

There is much to be gained along the way.

But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God. Acts 20:24 NLT

Only Love by Wynonna Judd. Out of all the flags I’ve flown, one flies high and stands alone.

What’s being offered to you? What doors are open?

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Milk Wars Becomes Top Post

The past week’s traffic boosted Milk Wars into first place as the most read post on everyday epistle.

beautiful calf in Milk Wars

beautiful, image from Troxel Dairy Farm, Indiana

Milk Wars unseated I Like My Bike to take the top spot. I Like My Bike was featured by WordPress on their Freshly Pressed page last August.

Milk Wars was first posted more than a year ago. Besides being our most read post, it’s also our most shared post with 528 Facebook shares and counting.

Apparently, the message still resonates.

I know that You can do all things;
no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. Job 42:2 NIV

10,000 Reasons by Matt Redman, a new favorite in my house: Let me be singing when the evening comes.

See what all the fuss is about in Milk Wars.

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