The Elephant in the Room!

Have you ever been burdened with “the elephant in the room”? According to Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, this idiom pertains to:

The elephant in the room is an English idiom for an obvious truth that is being ignored, for various reasons. It is based on the fact that an elephant in a small room would be impossible to ignore.

I seem to be the queen of ignoring the “elephant in the room”. I have prided myself on being forthcoming and straight with folks, but somehow this ability has disappeared—I am not at all straight forward and tend to overlook the obvious “elephant in the room”. The “elephant in the room” could pertain to relationships, job futures, personal “issues”, memories even POSSIBILITIES —it matters little. There is no way around the fact that this is an example of cowardice—of the inability or choice not to “deal”. Why do I do this? What am I afraid of? This isn’t like me—not who I was, but apparently who I have become. Is this something that comes with age? life experience? or have I simply become lazy? 

What is the elephant in your room? What is the big “issue” in your life you are choosing to ignore? I believe we all have them—

This I know for sure….

Dr. Phil and ME!

I often tease my students that we need to invoke the Dr. Phil philosophy “You can’t change what you don’t acknowledge” Is that true? If so, here are some things I need to acknowledge:

1. I am no longer the person I was.

2. I am not yet the kind of friend that my close friends have been to me.

3. I am inadequate at installing, maintaining or repairing ANYTHING electronic.

4. I should win an academy award for “best performance of a person pretending to have it all together”; yet, there are more times recently when I have been truly content and acting is not necessary.

5. “Life is like a fan, when it blows one way it is a breeze. When it blows the other way it sucks”
(Thank you Brad for that quote)

6. Happiness and contentment are two different things. One relies on circumstances and one on the state of the heart and mind: I long to experience them both.

7. I am weak on my own—I need others to survive

8. I don’t openly cry enough.

9. I don’t openly laugh enough (although probably still more than most, just not as much as usual, but it is getting better).

10. I don’t always deal with my pain in healthy ways. 

Now that I have acknowledged all of these things, what next?

It is time for change—time for action– time to take back my life. So, I made a list—what to do next? You know what, you began to complete the list—I met with my financial advisor, joined the YMCA—realized that I don’t have to do it alone. Acknowledge that I needed help with “stuff” — and asked for it.

Dr. Phil is right—you simply CAN’T change what you don’t acknowledge. 

This I know for sure….

The Path of God’s Choosing

There is truly nothing random about life. We are on a journey: on the path of God’s choosing, yet subjected to the limitations of time and circumstances. Fulfillment of this journey lies in Christ alone. He is the author and finisher of not only our faith, but of our life circumstances. He works in and through our lives, defining who we are and who we can become. God is greater than our heart. He surpasses our ability to think, to make decisions, to breathe. 

When I am tempted to question the path– when I want answers I know I can’t have or when I simply can’t breathe, God remains authentic—real—enough. It seems so simple, but it isn’t always easy to live. I wish I could say that I live as if I believe this every day. I don’t. I am riddled with questions, doubts and even times where I think I won’t be whole again—but through my limited vision, I know that God has chosen this path for me and not only can see how the journey ends, he doesn’t allow me to walk it alone.

This I know for sure.

A Grown Up? Me?

“Maturity is a high price to pay for growing up.”
– Tom Stoppard

How do you know when you are a real “grown up”?  Is it when you sign your first mortgage, buy your first car or get your first job?  Is it when you wake up and realize you are responsible for another human being? Or is it when you graduate from the “kids table” at Sunday dinner? I used to sit at the “kids table” during large family or church dinners which my parents often hosted.  I would dream of the day I could graduate to the “grown up” table. Now, I long to be back sitting with the children at the short table, partaking in animated conversation, and devouring peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  I must admit, being a “grown up”, at times, is highly overrated. 

At 44 I feel I am who I am.  I have a friend whose mother recently handed out kindergarten report cards to each of her grown children.  Each child opened his or her report card and read aloud what the teacher had written about them at the age of five. In EVERY case, the kindergarten teacher’s comments perfectly described these grown children. Is being grown up simply maturing in who we were to begin with?

I have made choices in my life to extend my ability to participate in childish behaviors. My profession (a teacher) allows me moments of silliness. Children often respond to silly over serious-especially when learning prepositions. My friendships require that edge of wit-not taking anything too seriously, but being present when life turns that way. My family, well, I believe lunacy is not only acceptable, but a requirement. So perhaps a conscious effort has been made on my part to maintain acceptable levels of immaturity.

Most of the time I do not feel “grown up”; however, I must admit there is security in realizing and accepting that, like it or not, I have become seasoned with maturity. I can, accept delayed gratification, I often take pride in keeping a secret rather than telling it and I face difficulties head on instead of evading them; yet, I still make silly mistakes, laugh at off-color jokes, and over-indulge at times.  Most of all, I cringe at the fact that, like it or not, I have become a “grown-up”.

This I know for sure.

Transcending Circumstances

“Peace Does Not Depend on Our Circumstances, but in Our Willingness to Allow God to Use the Events of Our Lives to Create a Dependence on Him” –Henri Nouwen-

John 14:27
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

One thing I have learned is that I don’t have to “get it”. Peace will transcend my circumstances. Dependence is something new for me—I am, if nothing else, independent; however, my circumstances have forced me to be more dependent upon others and upon God. Bending my will to God’s has taken a type of surrender that is difficult. I have begun to look at my plans as tentative-knowing God may have something totally different in mind. So, peace is often found in living in God’s present, while being open to an alternate plan if one is revealed.

God grants us peace for the present when we learn to depend upon Him. He designed us to need him. It is the way we are wired. As we become aware of our neediness, we become aware of His sufficiency. HE can meet all of our needs without ever tiring or running out of resources. 

God directs us toward contentment. All things around us can be in turmoil and peace can still be found. That is a promise. “And the peace of God which transcends all understanding will keep your hears and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7

By spending time with God, I begin to gain His perspective on my life. I love that. He longs for me to find peace. Not the peace the world gives, which is dependent on circumstances, but real inner peace which transcends circumstances. 

This I know for sure….

Eternity Begins Here

I used to think of eternity in terms of some spiritual resting place, some euphoric existence after my life had ended. I have come to believe that eternity begins here. How I live my life, who I choose to share it with, and activities I involve myself in profoundly affects this eternity. The people I experience life with today are the very definition of my eternity. They are the congregation of the ages.

So, what does this mean for me daily? Does it cause me to look at life with a greater sense of community? You bet it does.

Creating a living legacy becomes paramount. It forces me to become less concerned about how I will be remembered and more about the impact I am making right now.

What is our responsibility to a living legacy? Do others see purpose reflected in our lives? When folks are with us do they want to know, just by being with us, what makes us whole?

Eternity begins here—This I know for sure.

Lord of the Dance!

“And when we become present to God and God’s people, we find our lives richer. We come to know that all the world is our dance floor. Our step grows lighter because God has called out others to dance as well” Henri Nouwen

Psalms 30:11 “You turned my mourning into dancing”

I am a Nazarene girl—born and raised. I didn’t go to my high school prom, or to school dances but now—I love to dance. I am not great at it, but I love the reckless abandonment that one feels when they are truly dancing. The thought of actually being able to dance to the music in my head, at this point, seems like an impossibility. The thought that amid pain, joy can be found is a bit overwhelming; yet I take comfort in knowing that it is possible.

Dancing was meant to be a shared activity. It just isn’t as fun to dance by yourself. Dancing with others requires one to take the lead and another to follow. Friendship is like that, companionship is like that and love is like that. Dancing at this point is difficult. It is my belief that God has deliberately sent people my way to dance with me. Some have come to dance out of obligation—this could be family, yet they move in time with the circumstances. Some dance out of choice –these can be friends, both old and new that join in. Some dance seemingly out of chance – a chance meeting that creates a beautiful waltz. As I am learning to dance, I need these different partners, each one perfectly fits their particular dance and we move graciously to the rhythm of life that God has orchestrated.

As we learn to dance, at times we are called to partner with others. Not long after Don died, some friends lost a young grandson to sudden death. This grandfather had been the physician in the emergency room the night Don was taken in-the man who danced with our family and brought about calm amidst the storm of the evening. Now, he was in need of us. My brother, Marc, created a beautiful memory video for my husband’s memorial service, so to this great physician friend I offered the only dance I knew and that was the ability to create a similar video for his grandson. As Marc and I worked on and created this video I could not believe the healing that began to take place within me. The dance was sustained as it gathered in more partners.

By allowing the Holy Spirit to call us to dance and heeding that call, at some point we realize that we don’t have to remain where we are; whether it is in grief, depression, difficult life circumstances etc… We can actually move beyond the point of self-absorption. We can make room for others to enter the dance with us to minister and be ministered to. Our load will become lighter because we are no longer dancing alone.

Total fulfillment, however, lies in Christ alone. He is the author and the finisher of not only my faith but of my life circumstances. He works in and through my life with people and situations that define who I am and who I can become. God is greater than my heart. He surpasses my ability to think or feel. He is the perfect dance partner. Dancing in time with the Lord of the Dance- to the rhythm of His plan is where the focus becomes fulfillment.

This I know for sure…

“To heal is to let the Holy Spirit call me to dance, to believe again, even amid my pain that God will orchestrate and guide my life.” –Henri Nouwen-

Now Choose Life!

On September 29, 2005, my life, as I knew it, changed forever. I haven’t wasted much of my time with wanting to know WHY my 45 year old husband and father of my children was taken from me. I am not sure any answer from God would be sufficient anyway. The why is of little importance at this point. It is the journey from here which will create character and give definition to who I become.

Eleven months ago I lived through the darkest days of my life. When Don was taken from us I wasn’t sure how I would even begin to breathe again let alone begin to heal. Little did I know God was preparing me for an amazing journey of healing and hope. Healing became a deliberate choice.

It has taken this year to realize that Don was never ours to begin with. We were blessed to have borrowed him for those short years. Not that our grief has past, as I suppose it never will completely, but we have the promise that the God who blessed the bright days of our past is longing to be the author of the bright days of our future.

Deut. 30:19-20

“I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now CHOOSE LIFE so you and your children may live and you may love the Lord your God, listen to His voice and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life.

“My identity changed in a blink of an eye. I was no longer married; I was no longer someone’s wife and the secure identity I had owned for 24 years, was no longer mine to claim. A new identity defines me. I am now a single parent, I am a widow. I am left with an identity that is awkward. It is uncomfortable yet as I meet the challenges this “chapter two” brings, I know that it is about choice—-choosing life.

It has not been an easy choice to make. There have been many days that I would have rather chosen to lie in bed and bask in my misfortune – it would have been easier. My reality is that at 44 years old I am a single, working mother. It is not the plan I had for my life and though my plans have been forever altered I know God’s plan remains intact. I grab and hold on to the reality that my God is big enough to see me through raising two boys, educating 25 children each year, and paying the mortgage on time.

I can’t change my life history. I can’t change my circumstances, but I can change how the story continues from here. I am choosing the life mentioned in Deuteronomy 30. How do I do this – by seeking the voice of God in my life. I have become so aware of how God speaks to me. I have never been one of the fortunate ones who have audibly heard the voice of God, but I believe He speaks so clearly to me through His Word, through music and through relationships with people in my life.

The choices I make now, how I choose to live directly impacts those around me—especially my children. Though my children are making the same journey, we are on varied paths. I want to lead by example – I want them to know that God really is enough. I want them to know that “stuff” matters little compared to relationships, friendships and love. I want them to know that in the midst of it all—tragedy does not define you—how you choose to live does. I want them to also, CHOOSE LIFE.

This I know for sure…