Blog Archives

Into the Horizon

The snow continues to fall outside the window of parent’s home in Vermont. Miles and miles of white fields lay on the horizon. The night will prove to be brilliant once the clouds clear and the moon shimmers glistening on new snow. Fresh powder always seems to have a mystery of jewels as it sparkles. It’s been much too long since the snow has serenaded us. The world feels expansive with snow covered fields that seem an unending horizon.

In the coming weeks I’ll be moving a couple of towns away after 14 years in the same home. It’s been a wonderful place to live for a variety of reasons, however one reason that I will miss is horizon. Though I live in a town, a village of sorts, my bedroom is on the third floor of a home set on a hill. My bedroom window faces east and the sun regularly wake me up. No neighbors can peak into my windows and my shades are never drawn. Many mornings pinks, oranges, and reds are found on the horizon and it seems the masterpieces have been scripted just for me. I know that just beyond the window lays a village, fields, woods, a beautiful beach and the Atlantic.

Growing up in in Vermont brilliant sunsets are common though were never taken for granted. Whether it is the sun setting over Lake Champlain or settling for the night behind a hill, the canvas is continually changing. It seems it is always improving. Many a day my parents would call to us to see the display of beauty which God was painting. There is also a drive I love to take through the Champlain Valley with the rugged Adirondack Mountains and glimpses of Lake Champlain on one horizon and the soft Green Mountains on the other. Even as a child I knew that this display was magnificent.

On my way to work I drive through conservation and state forest land. Fields lay on both sides with perfectly set trees that solicit dreams of picnics, long walks and carriage rides. Often there are glimpses of deer or in the fall an expansive pumpkin patch. Horses find their way to barns for hay as I attempt to savor a few more minutes without reviewing a list of tasks and crises. My thoughts in the first few miles of this drive typically turn to God who it seems has orchestrated a perfect commute for this girl who longs for the horizon.

When I go too long without a view of the horizon there is something that goes amiss within my soul. My world seems smaller, the possibilities for the future bland, and my restlessness can’t be identified. With the horizon it’s easy to remember there are adventures to be had, relationships yet to be discovered, and a journey that is unfolding. The mystery of horizon is that it is ever changing whether it is jeweled snow, erupting pumpkin patches, dazzling sunsets, spirited sunrises or courageous explorers on a quest. I long to move into the horizon, to take the walks, hike and ski the mountains, kayak the oceans, swim the lakes, and meet those also on the journey. Each day there is new light, colors, people, and beauty to behold. My soul longs for the horizon and what lies ahead. My prayer is to move into the horizon knowing I will not capture it rather allow myself to be captured by the one who created it.

 

Waiting for Water

Giving a Last Letter

Back in April of 2011 I blogged about Writing Gini The post was a way to keep myself accountable about something I didn’t want to regret not following through with. Gini Andrews, my mentor and friend, is now 95 years old and 11 months. She has been a dear friend for 13 years and has played an integral part of my faith journey. Her life here on earth has been winding down with the support of a group of friends, friendship which is measured in decades rather than years. I am humbled that in a small way I am part of this group that is part of loving her into eternity. I have been thinking of this a lot for the past months. How do I express to her how much she means to me? How for my own process, journey, and eventual healing do I feel I have no regrets and enough been said? Though both of us have been generous with words I chose to write a letter. Yet for many months I didn’t feel the pressure of it. She seemed relatively healthy and I only wrote a bit. However in August there was a diagnosis of cancer and decision for hospice rather than treatment. The pressure moved to writing the letter and my desire to get it “perfect.” How I hate the part of my personality that puts pressure on myself to both overachieve and do things “perfectly.” So I worked on the letter in fits and starts. It was exhausting to write and to edit. Writing each section brought tears as did each edit. Yet finally I finished and it found its way downstairs and into her hands this week.

Having completed writing a letter of gratitude and thanks I leave you with some suggestions when writing and sending an important letter, especially for those leaning toward Type A.

  • It really is the thought that counts. As long as it is readable the receiver is not going to look at it with an editor’s eye. I have comma issues and Gini is a writer. Get over your grammar issues, finish and send it.
  • Allow yourself to use the process to work through your own feelings. Allow tears to flow thinking about saying goodbye whether goodbye is in months or years. Allow tears to flow about expressing things that someday you will not be able to. Assume you will not be able to easily identify all the emotions the process stirs up.
  • Express what you have learned from that person. We all want to know how our lives impact others and wonder if/how we will be missed.
  • Most relationships include humor and if you are able include this aspect of your relationship.
  • Consistent with your own beliefs, share your own source of peace, or if you share similar beliefs/faith this could be the most central source of comfort and strength you share with the person.
  • Get it done, put it on your list, and prioritize it with enough time to allow the emotional process of it.

Other posts referencing Gini and the gift of her friendship: A Childless Mother’s Day
Embracing a Space

Hospice is an agency that excels in helping individuals and their loved ones make end of life decisions with dignity and grace. Hospice of the North Shore

Being a Curator

I’ve been at the Catalyst Conference in Dallas this week. The lab day, and first full day have wrapped up and I don’t know exactly where to start sifting through the messages, challenges, encouragements, and truths shared. As I flip through my moleskin there are points for me to ponder and pray through for many weeks and months to come. This is why I made this journey.

To start my debrief process the talk from Andy Stanley comes to mind. He stated that “a single act of courage is often the tipping point for something extraordinary.” He went on to talk about the 3 faces of courage – the courage to stay, the courage to leave, and the courage to ask for help (he specifically referenced counseling). He then talked about what we should fear… specifically “waking up and not being in the center of God’s will.” “We should be afraid of waking up and thinking we’ve missed out.” He also essentially reminded us that we will not know the outcome or impact of that single act in the moment we take action.

This was important to me… powerful. The name of my blog is “I don’t want to miss.” Missing out is my biggest fear… I wrote this before hearing Andy Stanley’s talk… which made me think I might be onto something.  Deciding to start blogging included a list of pros and cons regarding my fears and today I felt affirmed that starting was a good decision. Also it was a great encouragement that action is important, while embracing we do not know the outcome.

Later Scott Belskey expressed that we are to be “curators of what is interesting” to us. I love that phrase… what is of interest to me includes a long list not limited to: orphans, foster kids, young adults, those with severe mental health challenges, mentoring, church, justice, compassion, social work, sports, adventure, travel, Moldova, and Haiti. Thinking of how to be a curator of these interests and express them with others in the best way possible is challenging and exciting to me. I too also want to engage with others to see what they are curators of. I want to see what beautiful pieces we each share or are unique. I don’t want to miss today that my hope can be to be a curator for what God has placed on my heart. Writing is a part of this role as curator.

Planning a Birthday Year

This year I am turning 40… It’s a bit hard for me to say some days. Its months and months away still, but I’ve already been planning. My goal is not to accept it rather embrace it and celebrate it. Part of the reason for starting this blog is embracing it. I had thought of blogging for a while and finally decided to put a stake down. A friend from college turned 40 this past year and she had an inspiring idea calling it Forty for Forty http://sharpteamblog.wordpress.com . 40 Experiences in the birthday month for Turning 40. What a great idea to hijack (giving credit of course). So I’m putting my own tweak on it. I’m still working on my 40 for 40 list. Some are experiences, others one time goals, and others are hopeful bigger changes in my life. The complete list is yet to come. But starting to blog is on the list. It’s not a simple experience or task to check off as anyone can sign up for a site and pick a theme. I’m guessing that signing up really doesn’t qualify as blogging so I’ll have to evaluate at the end of this year. I’ll give it a 1/10th of a check so far. The list is in process and new ideas emerge as I dream and reflect. There is a difference in this list than the one I make nearly daily to prioritize my day at work. It’s different than my weekend to-do list which I put on special paper so I don’t lose it. Those lists are not made or completed with the great anticipation and expectation of joy that my 40 for 40 list has. The 40 for 40 list makes me smile when I read it over, affirms my commitment to grow, and helps me feel that I am embracing rather than missing out on this year. I don’t want to miss planning a great 40th birthday year.

Beginning

I don’t want to miss out on beginning. Sometimes I get caught in trying to get everything “just right” or perfect. I want to write the perfect first blog post with the perfect (for me) blog name. Yet I don’t want to miss out on starting something because I get caught in a false perfectionism.

“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life..” Anne Lamott in Bird By Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

This quote is above my desk at work. I have a problem with perfectionism and it impacts me starting things or sometimes ending them. I always have in mind how to do things a bit better. Maybe making a present just a little nicer, a note more personalized, a work project more complete, my office more organized, a workout harder faster or longer. Sometimes this idea of perfectionism nearly paralyzes me. The gift isn’t given before the baby has suddenly turned 6 months and can’t be squeezed into the 3 month outfit. I don’t have time to work out for an hour so I decide 30 minutes just wouldn’t cut it. I rewrite a thank you note twice because my handwriting seemed messy. Did I mention I have some perfectionism challenges. I do however start and finish many projects and end up being happy with them, content, joyful, and often wishing for the feeling to last. There is often a feeling of accomplishment and that I have embraced, rather than missed the opportunity in front of me. There will be more on why I chose the domain name for the blog and what I was thinking but for today it is about beginning and that I don’t’ want to miss the opportunity to start blogging as I expect it to be wonderful. The blog, and journeying is not about perfection (in this case a perfect blog name or design) but moving forwarding and not missing what is in front of me. More than that though… in the coming posts I will explore what it means for me not to miss living out faith day by day.

Welcome!