Recovering from sudden disaster

Not every storm has a name, like Harvey, Irma, or Maria.

Mine arrived without radar predictions or an evacuation warning.

An urgent voice on the other end of the phone said, “your house is on fire—you’d better get over here, NOW!”

Ash Gateway fire June 2006 police 290A few minutes later I found myself standing across the street from my home, watching helplessly as voracious flames consumed the roof.

The firefighters valiantly fought the blaze, preventing it from completely destroying the structure.  But what remained was damaged severely by heat, smoke and water.Ash Gateway fire June 2006 police 338

For the first time in my life, I was confronted with sudden disaster, devastation, and displacement.

There’s been a lot of that going around lately.  Perhaps like me, you’ve felt heart-sick over the string of calamities the past few weeks . . . hurricanes, wildfires, and earthquakes.

How do we recover when a major storm sweeps through our lives?

Continue reading “Recovering from sudden disaster”

When you wish you could do more

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When I heard that my church’s service would be devoted to a mission’s trip report, I initially dreaded it.  I knew the team would show photos of the home they built for a needy family in Mexico and share how their own lives had been transformed in the process.

It wasn’t that I didn’t believe in the cause . . . or celebrate the great things that God had done through them.

It was because I couldn’t go with them.

My physical limitations keep me from taking on short-term (let alone long-term) mission assignments.  Hearing others share about their amazing experiences (whether in person or via social media) can sometimes make me feel “less than,” left out, and longing to do more.

There are so many things I would do, if only I could . . . GOOD things, that would help meet the overwhelming spiritual and physical needs in the world. Yet, more often than not, I have to say “no” to opportunities to serve.

“No,” to pounding nails in Mexico. “No,” to traveling to an Operation Christmas Child warehouse. “No,” to overnight shifts at the local homeless shelter.

Then I discovered something I could say “Yes” to! Continue reading “When you wish you could do more”

Why I’m thankful for my limitations

A wave of melancholy washed over me the day of the holiday concert.   I was sad because I wouldn’t be singing with the local choral ensemble.group_5121

It’s not because the group didn’t want me.

This past fall I was honored to receive an invitation to join the choir, and began attending rehearsals.  My soul was immediately enlivened by the process of learning and making music again.

But I was simultaneously confronted with an old nemesis—my relentless battle with chronic fatigue.

The two-hour Sunday evening rehearsals were intense, with no breaks.  During each practice my body began to crash at about the half-way mark, leaving me hanging on by my fingernails for the duration.  Worse yet, I paid for it dearly for several days afterwards, struggling to function at work because of the resulting exhaustion, headaches, and dizzy spells.

Though I hated to do it, I knew I had to withdraw from the group. My health limitations had gained the upper hand once again.

Perhaps you know the feeling, even though your situation is different.  We all experience limitations of some sort—physical, mental, financial, educational, and emotional, to name a few.

It’s natural to feel frustrated or sad like I did when obstacles keep us from something we want.

But what if we could transform our view of the things that limit us (especially the things we cannot change) to a positive perspective?

th265r7k9f Continue reading “Why I’m thankful for my limitations”

A cancer survivor’s perspective: the difference between faith and trust

My best friend from college, Kelly, is a two-time cancer survivor.  Breast cancer first struck her at the young age of 31.  Kelly was a mom of two small boys and a new missionary in Africa when she discovered a lump.  The diagnosis changed the course of her family’s lives, as they had to leave their overseas post and move back to the United States for Kelly’s treatment.

The dreaded disease returned fourteen years later.  This time, Kelly faced a much more aggressive treatment regimen, including a mastectomy and chemotherapy.  The side effects of chemo decimated her, both physically and emotionally.

In God’s mercy, she eventually recovered and has now been cancer-free for eight years.  Nevertheless, she understandably still battles anxiety when it’s time for her periodic checkups.  She knows there’s always a chance the doctor could deliver bad news. Continue reading “A cancer survivor’s perspective: the difference between faith and trust”

Cherish Your Parents (while you can)

Cherish.  This one-word comment was left on my Facebook page by a long-time friend.  I had just posted the news that my brothers and I were holding bedside vigils during our dad’s final days.  Looking back, I realize that my friend’s brief post hit the mark.

Dad gazing at Jane

While helping oversee the physical aspects of dad’s end-of-life care was of paramount importance, it was even more critical to treasure our final relational connections:

. . . to see a light of recognition in his eyes;

. . . to tell him how much he meant to me;

. . . to feel his parched lips kiss my hand.

These are moments I will always cherish.

If you still have your parents, I hope you’ll have the bittersweet privilege of being with them in their final hours.

But more importantly, I urge you not to wait until their lives are slipping away to treasure them.

Begin cherishing them NOW.

Continue reading “Cherish Your Parents (while you can)”