Sometimes

Today’s post is written by my friend (and regular guest contributor) Debra Dickey. Thank you, Debra, for sharing your beautiful thoughts!

Sometimes……the slow person in front of you is in front of you to remind you to be patient.

Sometimes……the end to your lucky streak is to remind you of how fortunate you have been and still are.

Sometimes……what you perceived as an ‘error’ actually happened because it was the better option.

Sometimes……the change that you are not happy with is an incentive to better the situation.

Sometimes……a face that you didn’t expect to see just makes your day!  Or was that a cookie?

Sometimes……when you are outside viewing the colossal sky filled with the vast number of stars and constellations, some of which you cannot identify, your son will suddenly say, “I have an app for that!”

Sometimes……in the middle of January’s 20 degree temperatures, it warms up to 55 degrees!

Sometimes……you cannot even imagine the program that is running in the background of your life, until the beautiful evidence is illustrated.

Sometimes……the kindnesses that you send out into the world come back to you, and you are humbled.

Sometimes……you have nothing to hang on to, but you do.

Sometimes……the blessing are truly in disguise.

Sometimes……the puzzles are not puzzles at all.  (Vera Nazarian)

Sometimes……it’s not what was accomplished, but rather, if His Will was done.

Sometimes……the universe aligns with such clarity, that there is no mistaking Who is in charge!

Sometimes……the wonder and awe of His Presence is so infused that mankind cannot behold it.

Sometimes……now, the grass is too tall to take the path less traveled.

Sometimes……these treasures, in their own right, allow us an audience with God.  The whispers, the roars, the accomplishments, the defeats, the soldiering, the shouldering, the hidden, the luminesced, the white sands, the black shadows, the great and the small, each a brushstroke from His palette, details of essence and life.

Cosmos 2Tiny specks in the Cosmos — that which we are not privileged to view the entirely of — we are finite beings on our portion of this journey.  In unexpected ways and unforeseen places, may we recognize Him, within each discovery, each vivid contrast and fluent extreme, and at every impress.

Sometimes….. all that we have is not enough; all that we offer is.

Sometimes….. the seemingly insignificant is the supreme task.

You can go your own way

My boyfriend in college once told me that I reminded him of the female character in a Celtic song who was forever “chasing cannonballs.”

Checking out a cannon in Mammoth Springs, Arkansas with my husband

Checking out a cannon in Mammoth Springs, Arkansas with my husband

He was right.

I have been notorious for stubbornly making my own decisions. I often refer to this tendency as my “God versus Bethany” struggle. For years, mostly due to some tragic situations in my past, I chose to trust Bethany rather than God. Against all rationale, good advice, concerned friends, promptings from my conscience AKA the Holy Spirit of God, and even learned lessons from my past, I continued to choose to make choices based on Bethany’s will, not God’s.

This led to many uncomfortable, painful, and costly consequences. Thankfully, with the help of my anonymous program of recovery and sponsor and growing dependency on God, deferring to God’s will seems to be my go-to more often than not these days.

God continues to give me opportunities to choose, though, and sometimes letting go and letting God is not easy for me.

After having my daughter nearly eight months ago, I decided to eat an elephant–all at once. Finish grad school, with all A’s, of course. Prep for comps and read countless pieces of in-depth literature. Nurse my baby 6-8 times a day. Care for her the rest of the day. Write posts for my two blogs. Volunteer to edit documents for several friends. Maintain a super tidy, clean home. Continue to work my program of recovery. And of course, lose all that disgusting baby weight that had bruised my ego to a deep, dark purple.

Jogging with strep throat and doing the Rocky dance, February 2013

Jogging with strep throat and doing the Rocky dance, February 2013

I learned the hard way–by trying to start running again (and having some success) while recovering from a blood transfusion, an injured back, and two rounds of strep throat–that losing weight at my age after having a baby is not easy. It does not happen quickly. And it should probably not be on my to-do list until I’m finished nursing.

As has been the case in the past, it took a painful “aha” moment for me to realize that I’d overfilled my own plate. No one had done this to me or for me. I was not a victim. I had done it to myself in an effort to do everything as perfectly as possible.

My husband and I are blessed with plenty of land and many hiking trails. After having wide fire lanes created with the help of the Forestry Commission, my husband offered to watch our daughter so I could hike the fire lanes and take some photos. I jumped at the opportunity for fresh air and alone time, even though I felt miserable, lacked anything resembling energy, and had multiple other to-do’s on my ever-important list.

As I hiked along, I quickly realized my body had not recovered fully from my recent bout with strep throat. Every step was torture. To make matters worse, searing pain radiated through every square inch of my back and neck. But I kept going.

I took a wrong turn along the way and wound up at the bottom of an incredibly steep ravine. The only way out was up.

What an order. I could not go through with it.

So I sat down in the dirt with my panting companion, my cat Shao Hou, and cried.

Then I mustered enough energy to hike back up the ravine and head back home. I have the worst sense of direction of anyone I know. I don’t do “east” or “north.” I do “left” and “right.” That’s it. I found myself turned around on our own land, feeling like an idiot, and physically beyond the point of exhaustion and nearly crippled with pain.

I decided to cut through the woods in the general direction of “DOWN.” I figured eventually, I’d either come to the road or to our house. I clawed my way through briars and piles of brush and finally reached one of our trails.

As I reached the trail, with Shao Hou still patiently panting alongside me, I noticed a huge rock covered in moss, shaded by a large oak tree. It looked like a cool, beautiful place to rest for a  moment to catch my breath.

But you know me.

I didn’t stop. Oh no. I was going to finish this darn hike if it killed me. So I kept going rather than allowing myself to let go of my standards for performance in lieu of realistic expectations for my sick, aching body.

I cried the whole way home.

I felt sorry for myself. I felt angry at my body. I felt out of control. I felt that I’d wasted my precious “me” time on a failed effort to enjoy nature and get some exercise.

After letting my husband hug me and taking a hot bath, the “aha” moment hit me.

I needed help.

A healthier version of myself... slow and steady this time around. 10 more pounds to go! July 2013

A healthier version of myself… slow and steady this time around. 10 more pounds to go! July 2013

I could continue to go my own way and potentially do long-term damage to my body. Or I could listen to my body and stop pushing myself beyond my limits. And visit my doctor. And find a physical therapist.

So I did. Slowly but surely, my body is recovering, but not without plenty of effort and some pain.

The difference is that the pain I feel now is due to making the right choices to take care of my body and get help to heal it versus the pain I felt due to my refusal to slow down and accept reality, which never mimics anything like perfection.

Next time I hike the fire lanes on our land, I’m going to stop at that mossy rock, pet my panting buddy Shao Hou, and drink some water while I admire the miracles of God’s creation surrounding me. And I won’t feel bad about taking a break, either.

 

 

Accurate to within 11,000 years

*Big thanks to my friend Debra Dickey-Liang for writing today’s post and taking some of the stress of life away in such a humorous way.*

While reading some interesting news articles the other day about the most recent pyramid discoveries in Sedeinga, Sudan, and, ‘New evidence suggests comet or asteroid impact was last straw for dinosaurs’, it was noted (within the asteroid information) that the BGT scientists were “dating tektites from Haiti, analyzing them using a calibrated argon-argon technique to determine how long ago the impact occurred.  The tektite results agreed with recalibrated previous data but were more precise”  [UC Berkley study].  Now all that is somewhat technically comprehensive; however, the sentence following that is the one that grabbed my attention:  The new extinction data is precise to within 11,000 years.”  Can that be??  I love it!

timeHmm… a ‘grace period’ of 11,000 years!  Wow!  As one who lives during the days of ‘being on time’, ‘everything down to the wire’, ‘the eleventh hour’, ‘not enough time in the day’, ‘programmed to the minute, ‘statistics and data’, ‘accuracy counts’, etc. etc. etc., . . . .  what’s 11,000 years, right?!?

We are compelled to predicate our lives by minutes, hours, days, weeks and months — go to work, pay our bills, plan for college, raise our children, balance the budget, add columns of numbers, execute events….. so how nice would it be to get it almost right, say, I don’t know, within 11,000 years?   I must have been having ‘one of those days’, because for some reason, it just tickled my funny bone!

Believe me, in no way am I minimizing the breakthroughs that those scientists are making; however, on this particular day it just so happened that that the timing statement struck me as hilarious and inspired a comical moment for me.  In these days of deadlines, coming in early/working late, trying to do four and five things at once to get it all done, juggling work, family, and personal responsibilities every day, I just thought to myself, “How fun would it be to not worry if you got everything necessary accomplished, today, or this week, this month, or even this year.  Heck, I have the luxury of 10,999 years to figure that out and get it right — plenty of time, no problem!  Your appointment?  Why, I have you on the schedule in 5,681 years– did you need something today??  ( :

As a facilitator myself, I will admit that there are days when I have surely felt “off my game” by about 11,000 years! So I am one of the most grateful of folks when I can communicate and coordinate with those able persons who are precise and able to keep me on track!  I truly, truly appreciate them and their competence!  The other reason I am most grateful for them is because I thoroughly comprehend the hours and days that have been invested in order to do their job well, with character, and to such a degree and element of quality.  Because I, too, am that daily ‘voice’ of assistance. I regularly recognize it in others.  Therefore I take this opportunity to extend my especial gratitude and profound thanks for everyday encounters with those extraordinary artisans, who perform chivalrous, benevolent, and meaningful roles which add value to the lives of the people they interact with, on time and precise, most certainly without the benefit or advantage of an 11,000 year margin for error!

I need to work on that!   “But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.”  [II Peter 3:8]    Maybe that’s it.  I like it!

 

 

Day 27–Instant love

*Thank you, LaDonna Busby, for writing today’s post and for being a daily blessing in so many lives.*

Many people have told of meeting someone and having that “love at first sight” feeling.  Not that I doubted them, but I just never thought it would happen to me – but it did. Glen and I had been married a few years and wanted to start our family, but were having no success.  We tried everything we could, including years of fertility treatments and still no baby.  It seemed to me that everyone I knew was either pregnant or had just had a baby.

I do not remember who suggested adoption, but we came to the conclusion this was the way for us to try.  Not having the money for private adoption, we decided to try through the state agency.  There was so much paperwork, references to find, home visits – it took well over a year to get everything completed, but one wonderful day came notice in the mail we had been approved and were now on the waiting list.  We had not asked for a newborn, as we knew there were few available.  Didn’t think it would take another year and 3 months before anything would happen, but it did.

I have to admit, I cried a lot and prayed a lot – especially when my sister became pregnant.  It was following this crying, praying spell that I felt a deep peace come over me, and I really heard the words, “Don’t worry, there is a child out there for you.  Just wait.”

Susan Naomi

Susan Naomi

I tried to be patient, but it was so hard.  Finally in March 1979, we got the call, and the social worker would be at our house on March 15 to see if we would like to talk about a 6 month old little girl who was available.  Was she kidding? Of course we wanted to talk – we really had no doubts, we wanted this baby, sight unseen.  My feelings were so intense, even today I cannot quite explain them.

Glen and I traveled to Jonesboro on March 20, 1979, a cold, foggy, icy day.  We were led to a room to wait.  It seemed forever before the door opened. Zap! We both fell in love – instant, deep, holy.  We all locked eyes and that was that – she was ours, and no one would even dare try to take her from us. We knew our family was complete.  We would protect her with every fiber of our being, provide for her, encourage her and give thanks to God for her.  Susan Naomi became our world instantly.

Gratitude? I am grateful to the young woman, scared and alone, who made the decision to put her baby up for adoption.  Grateful to God for loving me and Glen so much that he had this beautiful child out there waiting for us.  So, yes – there is love at first sight, and it brings happiness, hope and gratitude.

Eating an elephant

Procrastination_by_diablo2097I’m not sure if I agree with Tom Petty’s claim that waiting is the hardest part. Sometimes getting started is more difficult.

Recently, my friend and recent guest contributor to this blog, Mary Agrusa, posted a writing prompt on her LinkedIn group, Christian Bloggers – Cross Currents, related to the word “initiate.” I didn’t have time to write at the moment, but my mind began ruminating on the word as I nursed my baby and stoked the fire in our wood stove.

11 years after graduating from college, I was able to begin pursuing my Master’s degree. It took me 11 years to get started for many reasons; primarily, I procrastinated going to graduate school because I couldn’t make fiscal sense out of the decision to take out more loans in order to pursue a degree which would most likely provide me with opportunities to earn approximately the same income (or possibly less). However, when my husband suggested that I consider going back to school after hearing me daydream aloud about how much I would enjoy spending more time reading, writing, and studying literature, I began praying about it and asked God to open the right doors and close the wrong ones. He did, and I’m grateful. I started school last January at full steam ahead.

I’m now preparing to graduate after completing two more courses this spring and (hopefully, fingers crossed) passing the required comprehensive exam for earning my degree. It took me 11 years to get started, but at least I’m almost finished. The part I’ve been dreading is the only part left–passing the big test and preparing for it. This fall, in addition to my coursework, I read 11 novels in preparation for the exam. My to-read list now contains only short stories, essays, and poems.

Even though I’m down to the home stretch, I dread finishing reading all those works of literature, attempting to commit the styles of writing and gist of the pieces to memory, and perusing practice tests and essay options. Lack of sleep and something new parents refer to as “baby brain” have sucked my scholastic motivation dry.

Photo by Tim Laman, National Geographic

Photo by Tim Laman, National Geographic

But two days ago, I recalled a phrase my wise mentor often repeats: “The best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time.”

So I printed out the list of the works of literature the test will cover and charted out a plan for completion. I read one essay by Ralph Waldo Emerson, and the following day, I read two more. And honestly, they were somewhat interesting and thought-provoking. I even found a few quotable lines here and there for my Facebook status updates.

Thankfully, I finally got started.

Eating an entire elephant seems daunting and pretty disgusting. But taking one bite at a time isn’t so bad.