Wednesday, December 30, 2009

That's a wrap

Earlier this morning, I glanced over my archives from this year and one word bubbled up into my mind:  journey.  That's the word I'll attach to 2009.  It was indeed a journey, one I could never have predicted at this time in 2008.  In fact, I would have looked at you as if you had two heads had you told me that in 2009 I would lose my job as marketing manager for the global company I was a partner of and had been employed by for 18 years.  I would have collapsed in a pile on the floor and refused to move had you told me the people I would lose in 2009.  I would have laughed in your face had you told me that in 2009 I'd face my inner math demons and take a GRE course and apply to Graduate school.  I would have wondered what in the world you were alluding to if you told me that 2009 would be the year that called for the best from me in the name of those I call my friend. 

What I'm challenging myself with on the last two days of 2009 is to declare the year complete.  I'm going to spend these two days grieving what there is to grieve and celebrating what there is to celebrate.  I'm going to ask of myself to be at peace with 2009 and then to let it go.  There are three questions that are in my mind to help me in that goal.

1. What do I want to acknowledge of myself in regard to 2009?

I faced challenges and I faced them with courage.  I actively practiced my trust in the Lord. I was constantly shown that although I cannot control what happens in life, I can control my response and my actions.  I climbed a mountain of change when it would have been easier to simply quit, and I faced down two enormous fears that I previously thought were defining of me:  that of losing my job, and that of facing my inability to conquer math.  I acknowledge that I made a difference in some lives, that 2009 was a year of reaching out with whatever gifts I had, be it a dollar, a minute, an hour or an idea. It was a year of saying I'll be there, and being there.

One of my dearest friends said to me earlier this year, I know why you lost your job. It was so you could be there for us. Perhaps she is right and losing my job was not at all about me but about what I could do for others.

2. What is there to grieve about 2009?

The pace of 2009 was frightening.  It was a hard year, for me and for others in my close circle.  It was a year of change and loss. My heart is heavy over the loss of friends, and I grieve the loss that friends experienced.  I grieve a love witnessed, one cut short by cancer.

3. What else do I need to say about 2009 to declare it complete?

2009 was my year of accepting change, facing fears, and actively being a friend, the year in which I truly learned to trust in God's plans whether or not I can see or even comprehend them.  It was the year I learned to trust my responses and actions, and the year I learned that I really can do so much in the name of love. 

It is my goal for 2010 to carry the best of my lessons forward and to live in peace with the future challenges because I know that the journey is the gift.  What I make of it is my responsibility.

What do you want to acknowledge about 2009?  What do you need to do in order to declare the year complete and move forward into 2010?

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas morning


St. Francis Catholic Church, first Euro-American Roman Catholic Church in Wadsworth county, built 1895.  This little church is a Texas Historic Landmark, and on the way to what used to be my father's hunting property, Flyway Farms.  On Christmas morning I woke early and drove into town for the newspaper, then decided to seek out this little historic beauty for some early morning Christmas worship.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


This morning, I was sitting at a dining table not my own, lost in my thoughts and absent-mindedly fingering a charm that a good friend gave to me on Sunday for Christmas.  The charm hangs from a silver chain and imprinted on the charm are two words:  Be brave. When I snapped out of my thoughts, I wondered where my mind and my heart were on this day last year.  You know what's funny?  My heart and mind were on the same message, that of being brave.  I wrote a post from my heart to the world on December 15, 2008, which I've copied below.  When I read my own words from this time last year, I couldn't believe how applicable they were today.  Somehow the me in the past was reaching out to the present me.  I'm so glad she did because I found a reminder and comfort waiting for me in that post. Perhaps you can use her words again this year too. 

An Early Christmas Gift

I was thinking about you earlier today. To be truthful, I've been thinking about you all day. I've been wondering what to get you for Christmas. I had no idea. I kept coming up short. My ideas weren't enough. They weren't meaningful enough, didn't connect enough, they kept falling short of enough.

Tonight though, I realized I was trying too hard. Gifts of this season are not about pomp and circumstance. Tonight, I realized that the gift I have for you is not one I can find in a store, purchase, wrap and hand over to you. Tonight I realized that what I have for you is something that was given to me. Two words, two magnificent words.

Be brave.

Every challenge I have faced in my life, from early years through high school and college and into my career, through heart break and loss, my father would calmly sit while I poured out my stress, confusion, sorrow and grief, and he would quietly but resolutely say to me, Be brave. Every challenge I've faced since losing my father, including losing my father, I've heard his words of advice echo back to me again and again. Be brave.

And with those words, I would realize that I could face what was before me, tackle the challenge or weather the fallout. They are not words of action or inaction, they are words of approach, of attitude.

And so I want to give you those words.

Whatever it is that you face in your life, the challenge, the sorrow, the confusion, the heartache, the destitution, the knots, the loss of faith, the hopelessness, I'm not going to preach to you, not going to advise you or make suggestions, I simply want to give you one of the greatest gifts given to me:

Be brave, my friend, be brave.

I'm not asking you to change your course or to understand something you cannot fathom at the moment. I'm not asking you to forgive or understand or extend an olive leaf. I'm not asking you to have faith or to put your troubles in the Lord's hands. I'm not asking you to seek therapy or to read this book or the other. I'm not asking anything. I'm simply offering these words: Be brave. And in giving you these words, in my heart and mind, I'm giving you my father's sage advice. Simplistic but powerful, in your darkest hour, you can do it. One minute at a time, one hour, one day. Be brave. You can do it, you can. You can face the moment, the day, the week, the future.

Please accept this Christmas gift from me, these two little words given to me over a lifetime, two little words I give to you now: Be brave.

Whether you need them today or hold on to them for the future. Forever and true, this gift of words will never fail you.

You know I love you. XOXO

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Master's Plan

I don't always understand it, the Lord's magnificent plan. Who am I kidding when I write, always?  I only get fleeting glimpses of comprehension, and those are rare at best. But I do trust in Him, even when his plan is painful to accept, especially when his plan is difficult to understand. The Lord's plans are not mine to know, and only through faith do I understand this to be true.  I will not angrily raise my fist in the air, and ask Why?  Instead, I humbly ask that He help me accept what I cannot change, that He guide me in keeping my promises, and that He lead me to where I am the most useful to His children.

This time, this present, is a terribly sad one, and yet a quiet and beautiful one. A bright light slowly fades, a circle completes itself before me.  This is a time where I hold Eclesiastes close to my heart. To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heavens. 


Wednesday, December 09, 2009


I remember as a child, I was fascinated by echoes.  I loved to yell HELLO at the top of my lungs and hear my word travel across the lake from our hill country house and bounce along the limestone hills in slowly decreasing volume and increasing distance.  The echo was my first awareness of the law of give and take, of getting back what we put out.  What we say, how we treat others, how we omit or stretch the truth, and how we set out to support or deny the character of another, these things and more have everything to do with our own well being.  We cannot be too careful about what we send out.  Our words, our actions, can be cleansing or toxic not only in the lives of others, but to our own lives as well.   

It's something to think about, the law of echoes.

Monday, December 07, 2009

You must always tell

For years I carried this poem with me in my wallet. I tore its page from Interview Magazine in the early 80s.  Over time, the edges of the paper have become tattered, the fold creases deep and permanent, and the paper color yellowed a bit. A couple years ago, I had it framed, pressed and floating between two pieces of glass, and I hung it in the entryway of my home.

I've never been able to find the author.

This poem touches me with its simplicity and hope. I read it often and throughout the years I've found myself in different lines, but it’s in the truth of the last two lines that I find the strongest connection.  As it has many times in the past, the poem soothes me this morning. 

“You Must Always Tell…”

You must always tell the world what you’ve been through,
It does concern the curious who pass;
The stories of our hearts and of our dead
Can all improve our image in the glass.

I am a child who carefully picks her way
Here, or down there, or anywhere I stop
Tipping my had to twenty thousand truths,
Deep in a Now about to open up.

You must always tell the world just what you’ve learned;
It was not chance that took you where you went.
And when I search my pockets what I find
Is far more hope than I have ever spent.

You must always tell your secrets to the world,
Those passers-by whose business is the same;
And those from a land where all that’s holy’s dead
May not themselves be totally to blame.

You must always tell the world that you’ve been happy,
Loaded with talent, yes, a great success,
That you built beacons from brutality
And made your music from the pain of love.

We cannot both be ignorant and live
Let’s not just say we sheltered here a while
When one’s known death, and life–which is always there,
One tries to make a poem—and to smile…