Is anywhere safe?

shoppers

I was standing in line at Walmart when the thought crossed my mind, “What would I do if gunshots suddenly rang out?”  I knew it could happen, because shoppers in a Colorado store recently experienced it.

Driving home, I passed my church, and reflected on the massacre in a house of worship in Texas only a week earlier.

Nearby I saw the college where I work, and envisioned our regular “active shooter” drills.

It seems as if our country has become a place where we can’t buy groceries, attend church, or go to school without fear that bullets will begin flying.

Maybe like me, you sometimes feel overwhelmed by the rapid-fire succession of news stories detailing mass shootings.  I’m almost reluctant to turn on my TV, computer, or smartphone, for fear of hearing about another incident. (In fact, since I began writing this blog, several more horrific gun violence incidents have been reported.)

It’s tempting to live in a state of denial, become de-sensitized to tragedy, or exist in a constant “fight or flight” mode in response. Yet none of these options are healthy over the long-term.

So, how do we keep engaging life with a sense of peace and purpose when nowhere feels “safe?” Continue reading “Is anywhere safe?”

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”

A hand to hold when you need it

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Enjoying the shade of a Sycamore tree

It had been ages since I went hiking.  I was on my first visit to Arizona, and was excited to see the local flora and fauna up close.  My brother and sister-in-law suggested an easy trail in a state park nearby.

Trying to avoid the heat, we embarked on a mostly-shaded path that wound near a stream.  I marveled at my first sight of a Sycamore tree and its pale jigsaw-puzzle bark.  My sister-in-law and I couldn’t resist breaking into an old Sunday School song:

“Zacchaeus was a wee little man; a wee little man was he. He climbed up in a Sycamore tree, for the Lord he wanted to see!”

I could visualize Zacchaeus scurrying up one of the sturdy appendages of a Sycamore tree to get a better view of Jesus.

A bit further, I posed by a massive Yucca plant, taking care to avoid its pointy leaves.  Later, I heard the grass rustle and caught a glimpse of a quick-moving lizard (I was glad it wasn’t a rattlesnake)!  As we rounded a bend, we came to a bridge and spotted several deer foraging along the creek bed.  IMG_20170522_104234 (2)

After quietly snapping a few photos, we finished the crossing.  Though it was a fairly long bridge, the sturdy guard rails made me feel secure.

The next bridge, however, was a different story. 

Continue reading “A hand to hold when you need it”

Staying afloat during a tidal wave of transition

A couple of months ago I shared the post, “When life changes – but you don’t want to.”

In it I described how a treasured boss would be retiring, and shared a few tips for coping with impending change.

th[2]This month the tsunami of transition came crashing down with full force.

Perhaps I was naïve to think I might have a few days (or even weeks) of calm after my boss’s last day to grieve and re-group before my world turned upside down.

That first morning, I quietly entered his bare office and was overcome with emotion.  The pain felt very much like when I visited  my father’s vacant home after he died.

I wasn’t alone in my struggles.  There was a subdued mood across campus, and a teary-eyed co-worker said it felt like the “heart” had gone out of the building.

Yet at 10:30 a.m. that morning, before we even had a chance to dry our eyes, we received the announcement.  Our new college president had been appointed and would begin in six weeks.

Instantly, the mantra became “moving forward.”

The world as I knew it shifted, and the flood waters of change rapidly rose around my ankles.

Continue reading “Staying afloat during a tidal wave of transition”

When life changes – but you don’t want to

If we are fortunate, every so often we find a sweet spot in life . . . a time when our relationships and circumstances seem just right.  We are thriving and feel safe and happy.   And then something outside of our control happens.  Life changes—even though we don’t want it to.

thhg5zd0z4The first time I experienced it, I was only eight.  My dad was starting a new career, and we had to relocate half-way across the country. I remember the anxiety and sadness I felt over having to leave the only home I had ever known.

Similar feelings resurfaced as my high school days came to a close.  I dreaded the transition that would scatter my close friends and propel me into the unknown. Yet the hands of time dictated that a season in my life was over. 

As an adult, the pattern has repeated itself several times when circumstances beyond my control changed my world.  Sometimes it happened suddenly, like the day my house went up in flames. Other times it was a longer-term process, such as experiencing the stages of eldercare.

And now, I feel it happening again. Continue reading “When life changes – but you don’t want to”