When Communication Falls Apart

When Communication Falls ApartI listened yesterday as my friend told me what happened. The hurt, confusion, heartache, and guilt of being misunderstood and of misunderstanding was written all over her face. As she recounted her side of the story, almost as the words were tumbling out of her mouth, she could see the mistakes she had made and those that were made toward her. She loves the one she hurt and was hurt by, and just wishes she could go back in time and make it all go away.

Miscommunication is never easy to go through, and it never happens to just one. It takes two for that tangle to occur. Even when you’re talking face-to-face and can hear both what someone is saying and see their expressions, misconceptions can occur. An intended joke is taken as a serious jab. A feeling of empathy is misconstrued as patronizing. Add in what happens when texting, tweeting, and Facebooking come into the picture and those subtle cues of voice inflection, a smile, or a gentle nudge on the shoulder are no longer there, conversation and connection is further compromised. Losing those signals that allow us to read between the lines, makes relating to one another so much more difficult. Without the benefit of sight, twinges of offense begin to take shape in our minds. Judgment is not far behind. Continue reading

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When Faith Seems Unimaginable

Yesterday, sitting in my optometrist’s office that plays a continual stream of movies, I was able to catch a glimpse of a most memorable scene from one of my all time favorites, Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade. Indiana Jones, the main character in search of his missing father, who is an archeologist, finds himself—along the way with WW II Nazis, and others looking for eternal longevity—in pursuit of the chalice Jesus drank from at The Last Supper. In the last scenes of the movie, Indiana is clasping a series of clues woven with Scripture written in his father’s notebook, and he must use them in order to successfully find what he is looking for.

Among those many challenges, there is one that always mesmerizes me. An abyss of such unthinkable proportions, it looks impossible to cross. As Indiana reads from his father’s scribblings, Proverbs 3:6 always pops in my head. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. A pastor once told me that the literal translation of that verse is, when you put your foot out, the path will be there. When Indiana made the choice to step out into what looked a chasm of sickening heights—one in which he would surely die—his foot landed on a granite-like crossway bridging the gap. Hands down, it is the best picture imaginable of what it means to walk in faith. Every time I see that scene, I want to slap my leg in affirmation while jumping up exclaiming a resounding, “Yes!”

Now we may not have an actual physical canyon to cross, but I think we all face our own personal abysses everyday. Some, on the richter scale seem smaller than others. And then there are those that are gargantuan. Continue reading

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What We Must Do as the World Gets Darker

The solar eclipse of 2017 was stunning, even from our home that experienced only 99.8% of totality. Instead of joining the throngs in Nashville, Murfreesboro, or other surrounding areas, my son, John, his wife, Julie, and their four month old, Arthur, opted to photograph with me our landscape as we experienced the wonder of night in the middle of the day. None of us really knew what to expect, but armed with sandwiches, chips, cool drinks, and excitement, we waited. Keeping our cameras on the same settings and taking pictures in roughly twenty-minute increments—up until the end I was so excited I just couldn’t help but take pictures every other minute—we watched as the moon’s shadow blocked out the sun.

To the human eye, it didn’t get completely dark, even in the zone of totality, (as reported to me by my daughter who lives in that path). Here, as one sliver of the sun almost completely disappeared, another one immediately took its place. Outside of totality, there was no corona or diamond burst of light but only what looked to be a shadowy grey brown murkiness mixed with a little orange. The lamppost in the front yard turned on as did our white lights that line our porch’s bannister. As we looked out, the normally beautiful vista, which to the human eye appeared now to be somewhat out of focus, took on an eery distasteful feel. But later, looking at the photos we took, especially the ones when the sun was 99.8% blocked, we saw something quite different. Except for the almost imperceptible twinkle of lights, everything else was black. (I posted duplicates of those last two shots taken at 1:27PM and 1:28PM. One, to show the photo as is, which appears to show just darkness. The second is overexposed so you can see what was actually in the shot—closer to what our eyes saw—but is not visible without editing).

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Did the lens of the camera lie? Or did it just not pick up on the nuances that our eyes, constantly adjusting, allow us to see? I would say it is somewhere in between. But I couldn’t help but feel that the same trick our eyes played on us in the eclipse in making it seem not quite night, is analogous to what’s happening in our world today. The overshadowing of what is right with what is wrong, what is light and dark, accepting, even winking at what was unacceptable—what was considered uncouth, as my mama used to call it—is now more the norm than not. The lines drawn in the sand of what is allowed have seemed to fade, almost disappear, as the tide of popular opinion washes it beyond recognition. Continue reading

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How the Lord Brought Joy to My Mondays

How the Lord Brought Joy to My Mondays

I love Mondays. It’s the day I pop out of bed, to-do list in hand, and scurry around the house and office, putting away the weekend, organizing what’s ahead. It’s a beautiful thing really, even when the mountain of what-needs-to-be-done far outweighs what’s already been checked-off.

It’s not always been that way though. I used to not only dread the day-to-day of everyday, but especially the start of the week. Waking up to be greeted by what had to be done was sometimes overwhelming. Pulling the covers over my head was all I wanted to do. But it wasn’t just when there was work to be done. It trickled into even having fun. Taking time away from what I thought I had to do, countered by the crushing weight of guilt, of I what I thought I should do, topped off by if I don’t step in, who will, sometimes was just too much. No matter how burdensome those thoughts were, they stoked in me a flame of pride. At the same time, the slavery to them, created exhaustion. Having barely anything left to give, the good intentions of compassion and grace were lost. Continue reading

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Becoming a Pillar of Salt: A Lesson from Lot’s Wife

Recently, Jerry and I made a decision that caused me to come face-to-face with Lot’s wife, the woman from the infamous town of Sodom. Not a comfortable thought considering in the Bible, she is nameless. But more importantly, when fleeing the historic destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah she is the person who by looking back, disobeyed God and was changed into a pillar of salt. Not knowing her reasons why, but realizing that some of those same motives which might have caused her disobedience—not wanting to leave family and friends, wanting the security of the past by holding onto what is familiar—all of which are alive and well in me, was enough to give me pause. To stop and listen. To pay attention and trust God in what Jerry and I feel He is leading us to do. Continue reading

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The Loss of a Friend

The Loss of a Friend Dash of Strange

I received some news a few days ago. A dear friend of mine just passed away. We were not extremely close, but when we first met, there was an immediate bond between us. She was a friend of my heart. Smart. Sharp-witted. Loyal. Sweetest smile. One of those quiet ones, but when she did speak, people listened. I will miss her badly. Knowing she is not here, knowing I won’t see that grin or hear her mischievous chuckle again, brings heartache—and for her family and those who knew her well—one, that words cannot begin to comfort.

We’ve all been there. In one way or another. Friends. Family. Loved ones. One minute they’re here and the next, beyond our grasp. We see it. We know it. But, yet and still, we can hardly fathom it. And our hearts, whether we say it or not, always cry out, “Why?” and “Is it something I did or didn’t do? Is it something I forgot to pray? Did I not have enough faith?” Continue reading

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Tired of Trying to Fit In? Why It’s Time to Start Acting Like a Child

When my grandson, Arthur, was born, and because his older brother’s name is Henry, one of my very good friends when she heard the news, exclaimed, “How precious! Now you have two kings in your family, King Arthur and King Henry.” I hadn’t thought of that, but because I love the C.S. Lewis series, The Chronicles of Narnia, my brain went immediately to the first book where the most lovely and sweet proclamation was heralded over the main characters of the story as they were crowned kings and queens. “Once a king or queen of Narnia, always a king or queen of Narnia.” Thinking of my two grandsons, and my granddaughter, Lucy—also the name of the youngest girl in the story who becomes royalty—I asked my friend who made vinyl imprints items for fun if she could make t-shirts and a little dress with that quote from the book written on them.

When my daughter, the mother of Lucy, and my daughter-in-law, Henry and Arthur’s mom, got together recently, they did a photoshoot with their kiddos wearing their new duds. The results, so sweet—two pictures to be hung proudly on any wall—but it’s those other twenty-three proofs, those failed attempts to get all three looking at the camera at the same time, that are most dear to me. For it’s in these shots, the personalities of my grands are truly seen. And they are hilarious!

Tired of Trying to Fit In? Why It's Time to Start Acting Like a Child

Lucy, Arthur, Henry

As I sat chuckling, actually downright laughing over the antics of Lucy, Henry, and Arthur, it hit me how their craziness, goofiness, and silliness made them all the more endearing. How they were just themselves, nothing held back (as you can see from the pics). How they felt free—they didn’t know how to act any different—to be who God created them to be.

Truth be told, we all start that way. Somewhere along the line though, living in this upside-down fallen world, we become less and less our true selves, often imprisoned by the self-inflicted need to be accepted. Trying to please the world, we let go of innocence doing what we know we shouldn’t do, betraying the child within. No longer trusting we are loved for who we are, we try on different faces, hoping that one will be the one that wins approval. Continue reading

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How to Keep Our Hearts from Wandering

how to keep our hearts from wandering

The summer of 2012 was one of the hottest and driest times I had ever witnessed since moving to Middle Tennessee in 2004. That Spring, barely any precipitation had fallen. The ground was so parched that patches of dirt began to appear in what had seemed from summers gone by, to be a never-ending lush of green. On Independence Day that year, a rogue Roman Candle caused much excitement for our family as it blazed a streak of fire across our lawn.

But for the past two summers, we have had a LOT of rain. So much so, it feels like we no longer live in Middle Tennessee but now reside in the tropics. Tree frogs, crawling up the outside of our house, are more the norm than not. Soaking showers, gulley-washers, and soft mists, seeming to be non-stop have made this July one of the greenest we’ve seen.

So it was odd to me—it truly did stun me—when my friend and neighbor, whose family had been dairy and hay farmers since the mid-1950s, announced the other day, “We surely need the rain.” I could hardly believe those words were coming out of her mouth. But in continuing to listen, rainfall, unless it is more perpetual than not, will not do the trick. The wet and gray which from my viewpoint had seemed to be constant—making me feel like mold was creeping up my walls at record pace—was to her, barely sufficient.

Her words, were not lost on me as I began to think on the truth of what she had said. Rain one day, followed by days without, will never be enough. The same holds true concerning food and water. Without both of those, we would eventually perish. But what about those things less tangible? Do we give them the same needed attention? I don’t think we do. Friendships, even relationships among family members, taken for granted or no longer nurtured, can fade and be lost when some sort of connection is not maintained. And our relationship with God, if not tended to, can become so distant, it feels nonexistent. Continue reading

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Why It’s So Hard to Let People Love Us

Why It's So Hard to Let People Love Us

My dear husband does not like to get gifts. Not birthdays or holidays. Not even Christmas or Easter. Not anytime or anywhere. Nope. Nada. Nyet. The other day—mind you, it’s only June—when I surprised him with the complete DVD series of Hogan’s Heroes, which he truly loves, while thanking me, he quickly deemed it his early birthday and Christmas present adding that there was absolutely no need to get him anything else. I just have to shake my head and smile because my kids and I love to give gifts. And we especially love birthdays. It’s a celebration of life.

Giving and receiving. It’s not so hard to do. Or is it? For some, giving is a way of life. Making someone smile. Bringing that ray of sunshine into a cloudy day. Loving. Ministering. Caring. But flip the switch and be the one given to, and whoa, hold the phone. It’s been said, “It’s better to give than to receive,” but I would submit it’s a whole lot easier to be the one bestowing than it is to be the one accepting. In a world where according to The Beatles, all we need is love, why then is it so hard to be loved on? Continue reading

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The Real Reason We All Fight Change

Kid Hiding from Change

My daughter, Laura, doesn’t like change. Most of us don’t for that matter, but when she was a little girl, anything great or small that altered her universe, would send her into a tailspin for exactly two weeks. You could bank on it.

One time that stands out, happened when we made a major move from Missouri to northern California. We found that because of overcrowding in the public schools where we were going, it would be better for Laura, an upcoming fourth grader, to make the switch and attend private school.

First, there was the digging-her-heels-in and wrinkling-her-nose-in-protest-phase, followed by the argumentative, why-this-couldn’t-possibly-be-good-for-her-life, angle. (At that time, I was convinced if she had chosen to be a lawyer by profession, any firm would have gladly welcomed her.) Continue reading

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