Why are we here?

butterfly effectLife is a puzzle. Sometimes I wonder what it is all about and why we are here. What is my purpose? Am I here for a reason? I have spent my life raising a family, being involved in church and being a nurse. I hope that those things have made the world a better place. Not in some grand way but by trying to be a good person I have made a contribution.

I think we expect that in order to make a difference we have to be someone important – some sort of celebrity but I don’t think that is it at all. I am a believer in the butterfly principle. What each of us does makes a difference for good or ill. Everything that we do has an impact. This makes me strive even harder to learn all that I can so that I can change the world for the better even if in a very, very small way.

Sometimes I catch myself saying something that will impact someone in a negative way and I think about it later. Recently I met a nurse in a doctor’s office who is about to have her first baby. I made the comment that I used to work in Neonatal Intensive Care. She responded that she hoped her baby didn’t need to go there. I answered that she seemed healthy and that I was sure all would go well. Then I added: we used to say nurses babies were the riskiest. That was a bridge too far. The remark was true but she didn’t need to hear that. I have thought about it ever since and regret it.

tutuEvery day is a chance to be kind. To say the kind thing. A chance to help. I have decided that doing the right thing is why we are here. Nothing else is as important.

Matthew 25:37-39New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

37 Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? 38 And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? 39 And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’

Friends

friends 2Today was rainy and cold. Really depressing weather. When we lived in the north I preferred snow to this rain. It chills you so.  I have been helping out in the office of the church I used to work for. The only people I see are the administrator and a friend. Both are very dear to me. My friend and I do some simple tasks to help out a little. It is wonderful to see the two of them and we have lunch together.

I don’t know how I would survive without friends. It seems that women are more likely to have close friends than men. I am sorry about that because a dear friend can make life more beautiful. Two years ago I lost my lifelong friend and I still miss her. She was the last person alive who knew me as a child. Friends store memories for us. As we age they are the ones who can say “remember when?’ The two at church have known me for over 20 years. My other two close friends have known me for over 40 years. A lifetime!

Friends grow close through shared experiences. We have all had our share of illness, loss, crisis etc. We have all had good times. We understand each other’s faults and good points and accept each other totally.

I see friendship as another example of God’s love. God loves us and knows everything about us. There is nothing that we can do that will separate us from the love of God. Which brings me to one of my favorite Bible verses.

he love usRomans 8:37-39 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Choose the need

Last-minute-blog-post-jan-25thWe had friends for lunch today. One is over ninety and fragile. His wife called yesterday saying he wanted to get out of the house and could they come and see us. That was a resounding yes and we invited another couple who are special friends of us all. This lunch was a blessing. Our aging friend is slipping and it was a joy to give him a day of pleasure.

I worked hard yesterday and today to make a good lunch and a welcoming place for he and his wife. Our other friends felt the same. This is the first time that he has been out with friends in a long time and it gave us great pleasure to be able to do this.

Planning and executing a special lunch in 24 hours can be challenging but somehow God was involved in this. I have a friend who like to say the “arangels” were at work.

listenI wonder how many times I have balked at something that seemed difficult at the time but was something God had in mind. It is so easy to back away and not do the thing right in front of us. Do we pay attention or do we let it slip by us? Our own agenda can so easily get in the way. We will decide that we have plans and don’t want to change them. We can choose the easy path and put ourselves first.

We need to listen to hear when these moments appear and choose in favor of the needs of others.

If you want to make God laugh….

laughing GodIf you want to make God laugh tell him your plans. I was at church this morning and the minister said “God is not manageable.” This is so true but I don’t think we really get it. So often we are tempted to try. Awhile back there was a book out called “The Prayer of Jabez” ( I think that is right). It seemed to me that the book was saying if we say certain prayers and do certain things everything will be well for us. ( If  I got it wrong I’m sorry) The trouble is that we can’t make God do anything. There is no formula that we can use or computer code that we can design to manage him/her. We are not perfect and there is no way that we can measure up. We just have to accept that there is God’s grace.

We want so much to be in charge. That is when we feel safe. If we have OCD this is even more critical. We are compelled to organize our world or we can’t cope. That’s why the idea of God is so difficult to grasp. How can we depend on an unmanageable God?

A friend of mine did refreshments after church today in honor of the day (she said) her son went home to glory. We often question why did God let her son be killed in an auto accident? Unfortunately, there is no satisfactory answer to that. We come right back to the fact that we can’t make God the way we want. If we try we are putting God in a box of our own manufacture. God may not be the God we would make (if we could make one). God says “I am that I am.” Certainly cryptic enough.

grace blogWe cam’t spend our time trying to understand the ways of God. We can only spend our time having faith that we are loved and are children of God and covered by grace.

Love never dies

motherYesterday I did something I have not done in a very long time. ….I visited my mother’s grave. Most of my close relatives are in a mausoleum type place in a local cemetery. I seldom visit because for me they are not there. Only the shell they inhabited is there. Nevertheless I do feel guilty for not going there to see that all is as is should be.

My mother was a loving, caring person and reached out to those around her. She was a tremendous blessing in my life and brought me up to love God and others.

Almost two years ago I lost my longtime friend. She was the last person who knew me as a child. Life feels different when that person is gone. You can’t call them and say “remember when.” I miss her very much and was blessed to be given some pieces of costume jewelry that were precious to her. Every time I wear one of those pieces I can feel her with me.

friendsShe was an amazing person whose deep faith was an inspiration. She had a strong sense of social justice and was always helping where she could. Lots of people loved her and she has been missed.

Her youngest child, a daughter, was born with multiple heart defects and struggled through her life. It was my joy to be there for her following the death of Deirdre (my friend), Sadly, I think the loss of her mother was just too much and she died six months later. I was with her. She also had a deep faith and I loved the fact that she asked to be buried with a tree. Her ashes were scattered in the hole and the tree planted with her. She will nourish that tree as it grows. What a wonderful understanding of God’s creation and the cycle of life.

Though these three (my mother, my friend, her daughter) are all gone their love and faith sustained me through the loss and reminds me still that God is loving and caring.

Work, Love, Dance

Work like you don’t need the money. Love like you’ve never been hurt. Dance like nobody’s watching. Satchel Paige

bubblesAre we really living life? What does it mean to do this? I really don’t know the answer but have been thinking about it. The thoughts in the quote above do give some answers. Without work life can have little meaning. I think some kind of work is essential to humanity. I see the results of no work in people who have lived their whole lives as welfare dependents. No matter how complete they seem there is something missing. It is as if a puzzle piece has been left out. There is something enriching about work. It gives life purpose and can bring a sense of accomplishment even if we only put a cog in a wheel.

I can’t imagine life without love. I’m not talking about the romantic emotion that draws us to another but the deeper connection that reflects unconditional love. It can come to us in many forms: parent-child, friend-friend, lover- lover. If we are blessed we will have many kinds of love in our lives. Knowing that we are loved gives us a sense of self worth. Love adds such meaning to life.

step outNow we come to dance. There is so much meaning behind this statement. He doesn’t just mean dance but live! Live without fear of what others think. Follow your dreams. Explore ideas. Learn all you can. Dance.

These are some thoughts on living life. Am I doing it? Are you?

There is grief but more important there is love

griefGrief is a funny thing. Just when you think it is behind you it shows up and completely surprises you with its strength.  My mother died in 2002 and a few nights ago I dreamed that I had just watched her die. The dream is haunting me. I can’t seem to shake it.

Grief has showed up again. Logically I know that this can happen. I ran a grief support group for a few years and understand how suddenly it can overpower you when you least expect it. It still ambushed me.

When someone we love dies we ask ourselves all sorts of questions. We feel guilt for anything that we did or didn’t do…..real or not. Grief is hard and makes us look back over our relationships with others. It can shine a light on everything we think we have done wrong. We can end up feeling lost.

choose love 2However, there is an up side to grief. At least we were not guilty of missing love. Unless we are willing to love we will never feel grief. Missing out on love would make life seem colorless. Love can give us ups and downs but it is worth the downs. Love requires openness and being willing to be hurt. When we have been hurt we are not sure we want to feel that again but it is worth the pain. Love can hold us up when we are down. It can fill our lives with meaning. We have to choose love and we have to go on choosing it day after day otherwise it can slip away.

Don’t be afraid to love. Don’t be afraid to open up and give of yourself. Love is worth it.