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Yesterday I spent the day helping my Dad go through one of life’s transitions. He will be moving today from an apartment to a care center. In recent months, he has had more frequent times of confusion and some memory loss. In order to help him remain safe and healthy, my sisters and I agreed with the physician that it was time to move Dad to a place where he would have readily available assistance and some oversight.
Transitions often are not easy. When changes occur in life there is need for adaptation and an acceptance that life is not going to be quite the same. Often during times of transition, there is some level of grief. This grief is the result of facing that there is some sort of “end”. However, with an end there is also a beginning. So while transitions mark the end of something in our lives, they also mark the start of something new.o
As a believer in Christ, I believe this can even be said about death. I believe that death is a transition. It is a transition from the life that we know and understand at this point to the life that the Lord tells us about and promises to each of us. Again, this transition is not always easy. It can be difficult for those who remain in the life we know now. The events leading up to the transition can be difficult for the person who will experience it. Yet, even this transition carries with it a beginning. The beginning after death is a new life that will not see an end. The beginning of a life that does not include the hardships, struggles, and pains of the life we know now.
I realize that Dad’s transition this week is one of those events that occur on the path to a greater transition which includes death. However, I keep in mind that all transitions include a beginning and I celebrate the possibilities in that reality.
This week I am starting a new tradition on my blog. I am posting a song on Fridays which speaks to me each week.
In light of the violence that we are experiencing in places within our nation and the Middle East, as well as the Ukraine, I have decided to share a song that I believe many parents can relate to in regards to their children. It is a prayer that takes place in the midst of the musical, Les Miserable.
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This morning during my devotional time, I read the story of a Taiwanese man who felt he was being called into the ministry. However, his father, who was a businessman, wanted him to go into a more practical direction and join him in business. The young man majored in accounting in college and struggled with his school work. He made the statement, “my heart just wasn’t in it.” After completing his mandatory year of military service, his father told him to take the seminary entrance exam which he did and successfully enrolled in seminary.
The key for the young man in the story was the opportunity to follow his heart. I find this as something that is always a challenge for me since I have generally always been a practical person. There is value in being practical. However, like the young man in the story, I can name times when in taking the practical road I struggled because my heart just was not in it. There is something to be said regarding having the passion for whatever you are doing. Being passionate about aspects of life goes a long ways in creating peace and happiness in your life.
So from my devotion today, and reflecting on that story, I would encourage all of you to follow your heart. Find your passion for this time in your life and strive to take that path, even if it may appear impractical at the time.
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I had a conversation yesterday afternoon with a colleague. We were discussing different theologians and I made the comment that I did not think John Calvin liked grey but preferred everything to be black and white. I do not think that Calvin is alone in this trait. In fact, I would say that the trait is not limited to theologians. Many individuals prefer black and white to grey any day.
One of the reasons that I think people prefer life to be black and white is because when there is solid definition it is easier to know where you stand. A person may not always like the rules that exist in black and white life but there is some sense of security. Grey contains too many unknowns, too many variables. A child needs black and white because of the limits of their experience and their limits of reasoning through situations. However, as a person matures, the grey should be somewhat manageable. The truth is that life has a lot more grey than black and white whether an individual wishes to admit that or not.
As I look at life around me, I believe that grey is the norm. The clear delineations of previous times no longer exist. As we have become more mobile and more connected, it has become more difficult to draw lines. The times of making long-range plans is slipping away. Everything is moving quickly. So in this “grey world”, flexibility and adaptability are the key. The visioning for the future needs to be shorter in scope. Visioning can still occur but it needs to be more around base concepts and/or values rather than detailed plans. This also will require a higher level of trust; trust in other people, trust in God, and trust in the community.
So while black and white is an easier life to live, the reality is that we as individuals and organizations are living in shades of grey.
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Well, my annual trip to the Fair for 11 days has ended and it is time to refocus on my work. It is always wonderful to have a time to focus on something completely different and my time at the Fair allows me to do just that. As a volunteer, I can give of myself and benefit the Fair for others. Since I work in a merchandise trailer, it takes me back to the days of my retail work and is a completely different set of circumstances than the work I do throughout the rest of the year. The time away also provides for me to have a new outlook on the work that I do in my employed position. So I see that three areas of my life experience value when I am at the Fair; the State Fair and its patrons, the job which I do on a daily basis when the Fair is not taking place, and my own spirit.
Now, it is time to get back to my duties as a leader and the daily responsibilities. I find that I have new energy. I know that I have a new perspective. I think I also have some adjusted priorities. Getting back into routines also provides a sense of normalcy which can be comforting in a strange way. I have already begun to do some catch up which always is necessary after being gone for a period of time. By the end of the day, I will have a much clearer perspective of the tasks which I need to accomplish in the days ahead. But even those tasks will occur in a little different manner because of my ability to take a fresher look at each of them.
So my blog is back and I hope that you read it regularly and share it with others. Let me know if you have any topics you would like me to explore here.
It has been a combination of whirlwind weeks over the last couple of weeks. I have had some travel, some retreat time, and now am preparing for a couple of weeks of vacation time. There have been some unexpected events in my personal life over the last couple of weeks which always adds a little chaos. However, I have survived the craziness and busyness and now will be preparing for some time of relaxation at one of my favorite locations.
So how do you survive the whirlwinds of your life? I have found that a helpful survival tool is to take each day as it comes. If I allow my self to get caught up in all the craziness and start stressing over what may lie ahead, I can easily lose track of where I am and what I need to accomplish. While I always keep an eye on what is coming my way, I become very methodical about how approach the day and strive to live in the day. Once I complete whatever tasks or commitments I have in a specific day, then I can look a little ahead and see if there are pieces that I can accomplish which will make me better prepared for the next day or two. But above all, I live in the day.
I would be interested in hearing from my readers regarding how they manage the whirlwinds in their lives.
Since I will be on vacation until August 17, I am not sure how much posting I may or may not do. So be sure to check back and I promise to return to regular posts after the 17th.
Passenger planes being shot down by missiles. Peace shattered in Israel and Palestine. Mass shootings in various parts of the country. Ongoing battles in Iraq and Afghanistan. Everywhere you turn there seems to be violence, hatred, and death. These realities in the world can be overwhelming. As a person looks at all of this, it is easy to come to the conclusion that God is not here. It would not be the first time in our history that people came to such a conclusion; remember the “God is Dead” statements from a few decades ago? But this conclusion could not be farther from the truth.
This last Sunday we heard about a man named Jacob who was fleeing for his life. He felt all alone and had no sense of where to go or what future might exist. He laid down his head to attempt to get some rest before he continued his flight journey. During the night he had a vision which appeared to open to the very throne room of God. God spoke to Jacob and affirmed promises of home and future to Jacob. God also made a promise that I think we need to hear today, “I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” (Genesis 28:15, NIV) God was still with Jacob even during scary and dangerous times. God is still here now.
As a believer, I need to continue to pray about the situations in the world that are scary and dangerous. I need to continue to pray for those impacted by the events of violence, hatred, and injustice. I need to question why these events continue to occur and seek ways to prevent them. However, I must never lose sight of the promise that God gave Jacob and gives to all of us today; God’s unending presence with us. Whether it be on a global scale or the raging battles in my life, God has not abandoned us.
GOD IS STILL HERE!