I have the rare blessing of a lifelong friendship with my high school math teacher. Ms. Bowers taught me every level of math including trig, analytic geometry and calculus. When there were no more math classes to take, I became her aide, and she often reminds me of how hard I was on my fellow students. Occasionally she’ll call just to tell me how wonderful I am, and how much I still mean to her. I pour the love back to her, in deep gratitude for the way she mentored me through high school (without me knowing it). I always thank her for changing my life by insisting I leave East Texas and go to Austin to attend the University of Texas at the young age of 17. I shudder to think what might have been had I not followed her advice. Continue Reading
I just returned from a week in Colorado with my family, trading the brutal Texas heat for 40 degree mornings, clean mountain air and roaring campfires under the stars. We were far enough away from city life that there was no internet, and the small cabin owned by my in-laws didn’t even have a TV. We were forced to “unplug” and it was divine.
Ahh, reminders of the good old days, when we spent long hours with friends and family—looking one another in the eyes—and used landlines for local calls because “long distance” was costly. Our mail was delivered once daily, six days a week, and life went on without having to see a picture of what a distant friend had for dinner displayed through social media.
It’s here. The week of “chasing my lion” has arrived, and I am about to embark on a journey with so many unknowns. I’m headed to Uganda to lead women’s conferences in Pader and Soroti, remote communities where the majority of the women can’t even read or write. Their towns and their people were ravaged by Joseph Kony and Lord’s Resistance Army for 20 years, and many of their friends and family were killed. Those who remained were traumatized. Many were infected with HIV/AIDS. The war ended around 2008, but the effects remain. Poverty, AIDS, malaria, malnutrition and starvation are constant problems. Continue Reading
There’s always something to celebrate.
As I write this, it’s National Blueberry Cheesecake Day. If you don’t like cheesecake, then you can celebrate National Don’t Fry Day. There’s a reason to party every day.
Too often, we get caught up in the busyness of life, failing to notice our blessings and express gratitude. We let little annoyances get under our skin as they take over our thoughts, and we allow them to ruin a perfectly good day. We trade an attitude of joy and abundance for stress and anxiety. Somewhere along the way, we’ve lost the wonder of childhood as we strive to accomplish rather than experience. Continue Reading
May brings a time when we think about Mother’s Day. Some of us have warm memories of a mother who nurtured us from newborn to adulthood. She loved unconditionally, disciplined firmly and taught valuable life lessons from how to do laundry to how to love. The older we get, the wiser she’s become, and we are so grateful for the role model she was.
For others, Mother’s Day is tough. There are “unmothered daughters,” raised by mothers who were absent, abusive, or narcissistic. There are women who’ve battled infertility or miscarriage, and some have longed to be a mother but have yet to find the right husband. There are women who’ve become content as doting aunts and others who’ve poured out their motherly love through volunteering.
I just finished reading In a Pit With a Lion on a Snowy Day by one of my favorite authors, Mark Batterson. It is based on a not-so-familiar Bible story about a young man named Benaiah who was confronted by a lion that threatened his life. However, unlike most of us who would have run the other way as fast as we could, Benaiah chased the lion into a pit and came out the victor. Instead of letting his fears get the best of him, Benaiah took a giant risk, not looking at how big his foe was, but claiming just how big his God was. He chased the lion into that trap with a simple spear, and provided a lesson in faith and courage that speaks volumes about how we should approach opportunities today. Continue Reading
Sometimes I get overwhelmed with disdain for myself. Those days when I can’t get out of my own way, I just want to sit on the curb; put my head in my hands and hope someone will come along and offer me an ice cream cone.
I had one of those moments when I renewed my drivers license. I rearranged my schedule so I wouldn’t miss the deadline; went on-line to ensure my parking tickets had been paid; downloaded and completed the renewal form and went to a satellite office–rather than the fustercluck downtown–to save a few precious hours, waiting in line. I even went so far as to blow dry my hair so my picture wouldn’t look like a mug shot. Continue Reading
It’s that time of year when summer is winding down and the flurry of back-to-school shopping is in full swing. It’s also the time many women have been dreading as they face the empty nest. They’ve thought about it for years, but now that it’s actually arrived, they are crushed. How did this happen? How will my baby survive without me? What am I going to do now?
If you are like most women I talk to, busyness has taken over, and you can’t believe half the year is behind us. My friends are overwhelmed, and they’re longing for “the good old days” when summer meant slowing down. When we start digging for the root cause of being stressed out, often it’s poor time management. We forget we’re in control of our schedules, instead of letting our calendars control us. I say “we” because I’m part of this crowd, even though I know better!
If you are feeling stressed and don’t have time to do the things you really want to do, here are a few tips to help simplify your life.
A friend of my parents passed away last week. A customer had left an opened and half-read newspaper on the counter at Starbucks, and while I waited for my latte, I began to casually scroll down the names in the obituary column with detached non-interest. My mind-brake slammed on when I came to the familiar name in the latter half of the alphabet. Dad and Dr. S were colleagues and friends. They belonged to the same professional and social organizations, and for many years enjoyed a weekly game of squash. I knew his children. My mother and Mrs. S played tennis together and were on the same volunteer committees. Twenty some years ago, when I had a back injury, Dr. S took care of me. He gave me good care, good advice, a prescription and sent me on my way. I haven’t seen Dr. S since then, and only thought of him and his family on occasion in the years since.
His obituary is on my kitchen counter – a reminder that I should write a note to his family expressing my condolences. But every time I walk through the kitchen and catch a glimpse of the notice, or reach for some note paper, my throat clenches, and I am momentarily stopped with the effort to fight back tears. Continue Reading