I remember those early days and months after the death of my husband. One winter morning, I saw a white rose blooming on one of my rose bushes. The leaves were gone and it was January and very cold.
It precipitated the writing of the following poem. I share it today for my friend.
Loss is part of life; but those who remain struggle with their loss. Lois, God be with you and comfort you.
I Cried – He Came
God came one morning when I was down and low
He showed me a patch of blue between the clouds,
A bird scrounging in the dried bushes
Looking for food
“The Shack”, by Wm. Paul Young.
Several years ago, I led a six week book review at my church on “The Shack.” Last week I was asked to speak at a book club on the same book which has come into focus again with the recent release of the movie made from the book.
Preparing for my talk and discussion, I asked myself, how can I reduce such a rich book to an hour speech? I saw the movie, reviewed the book again, and reached deep into the text to pull out some of its jewels of thought provoking questions. Although it is a fiction story, it invokes questions such as who is God? Does He really care for us? How am I to respond to Him? If I have suffered a great loss, an unspeakable tragedy, does God care? And what do I do with my anger, hate and resentment?
Here are snippets of that book feature I did on my blog site, in May of 2015.
Yes you can! Just say No!
Perhaps you just lost your job – or you have spent four grueling years getting your degree but there are no jobs available in your line of work. What do you do?
Do you get up, put on a brave face and keep trying? Or do you give up.
Yes you can! Just say No.
Yes, you can is a mindset that reflects our willingness to dig deep inside ourselves and look for the tools we need to hone and use them more effectively. This isn’t just about putting a positive spin on a serious, perhaps life threatening situation.
It’s looking at your situation squarely and saying, yes I can; with the help of God and doing whatever it takes within my principles and values to make it happen.
It won’t be easy. It will take hard work. It will take ingenuity and creativity. It will take doing many things you might have thought beneath your talents and abilities.
“How was your day?”
It is a question we need to ask ourselves at the end of the day regardless if we work from a home office, are a stay-at-home Mom, or commute to a job away from home.
Are you exhausted, worn out and ready to collapse at the end of the day?
If your job leaves you drained of energy, coming home each day to a chaotic environment, dishes in the sink, clothes and toys scattered all over, chores left undone, is not what you want to have to face. It’s hard to relax when everything around you is a mess.
Time management is your tool. It will be effective only as it fits your wants, needs and goals.
What can a time management plan do for you?
Habits can keep us mired in a rut or they can take us to lofty heights of achievement.
Habits are great because we don’t have to think about what we are doing. It is like being on auto pilot.
We are creatures of habit. Some habits keep us from using our time efficiently. Others are time wasters.
Habits and behaviors are continued because we get a payoff or reward of some kind that motivates us.
We watch TV or play video games as a reward for working hard all day. We may stop and have a drink with buddies. But along with a reward, there is also a cost.
We do things in the moment because they are gratifying; but they may have negative long term consequences.
When we regulate our behaviors, we are able to harness our energy more productively, in a way we plan and choose.
Survival requires management – the ability to manage our time, our attitudes, our relationships and our finances. Management means you are in charge. It means you have organized and supervise what you do. You are the CEO of your life.
Do you know how you spend your time? What routines and schedules are habits that keep you moving in the right direction? Which are time wasters?
There is an immediate payoff from unproductive behaviors. That instant gratification, however, has a long term cost; giving in to our moods in the moment can eventually create a downward spiral of dissatisfaction, discontent and eventually depression
What are you being asked to accept today?
What major change are you facing?
As I enter the senior years, losses seem to be a routine part of life. I hear the poignant and tragic stories of people who are struggling to make ends meet, or struggle with the loss of their health or the untimely death of a spouse.
My first response when I suffer a setback is to think, Oh no, not again, Lord, I have had enough.
But then I read of what others are going through and realize my problems are trivial in comparison.
As I complete a new chapter in my new book, The Next Step, which speaks to acceptance and letting go, I am reminded again of how important it is to develop this skill.
Love or Hate – Which of these two emotions would you say resonates more in your life?
In his book, You Will Not Have my Hate, Antioine Leiris writes about the shooting rampage on November 13, 2015 when terrorists took the lives of people attending a rock concert at the Batacian Theater in Paris. His wife was one of the victims.
Shortly afterwards, he posted on Facebook an open letter addressed to his wife’s killer that stated in part,
“. . .you stole the life of an exceptional person, the love of my life, the mother of my son, but you will not have my hate.”
Later he wrote a memoir book on the shock, grief and challenges he faced to move forward with his life (click on the book tile link above for more information). He was instantly widowed with a seventeen month old son. How would he teach his son not to hate? How would he rebuild a life that had been so happy with his wife.
As I write the chapters for my book, “The Next Step,” I am reminded of the many losses people face within their lifetime. Some are a normal part of life. But many are unexpected, traumatic and devastating.
The last thing you wanted was to lose your baby, or your marriage or your health that impairs your ability to earn a living. When hit with such major losses or tragedies, we can’t imagine that life can ever be considered normal again.
Think of soldiers who come home with the loss of arms or legs or PTSD nightmares. Or a parent who is told their child has a terminal illness after waiting for years to have that child. Or a teacher who discovers she has a slow degenerative disease that will take every ounce of effort to continue working to support herself.
As great as the death of a loved one, chronic illness can seem like a slow death sentence. Living with severe health restrictions is a struggle few of us experience. Losing a beloved child, born or yet to be born, can be devastating. Losing your ability to make a living, tragic. Losing the ability to see there are options even more tragic.
Did you know that just by searching for positive things to be grateful for, you are activating your brain to produce more “feel good” hormones? Just by the process itself you are changing how your brain is operating.
Wow! That’s pretty significant. But why then don’t we focus more on all the blessings and things we can be thankful for rather than the things we don’t like and that make us unhappy?
Because we also get a payoff from continuing to focus on all the bad things. We are rewarded at least in the short term. Even worrying makes your brain feel better – at least for the moment. But not in the long term.
And that is what is important – the long term consequence of what you are doing. Because that will have a more lasting effect on everything you do. It produces a feedback loop that continues to expand into more positive things.