… new normals …

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It’s that time of the year again… The holidays… Thanksgiving a couple weeks ago, and now Christmas is fast approaching…

What, in the past, had always been “normal” for me at this time of year, has not been so for about the last 4 or 5 years… Instead, “normal” has been in flux, fluid and changing as has been the family situation… And even now, the “new normal” has not yet fully taken shape and solidified…

But it’s getting there… And despite a not yet fully established new normal, I will still celebrate!

Merry Christmas!
Happy Chanukah!
Joyous Kwanzaa!

Even if things are not “normal” for you, may you find a way to celebrate the true meaning of your holidays this year!

And may we all experience blessings in the New Year!!

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holidays on the road … new definitions …

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Some new definitions for driving during holiday times:

Slow traffic:  Traffic traveling at less than 80 mph on highways, interstates and toll roads…

Congested traffic:  Traffic congestion that makes me slow my car’s speed down to less than 80 mph on highways, interstates and toll roads…

one year ago today…

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One year ago, at this very hour, I was sleeping in my mother’s “easy chair” right next to her bed… there was a hospice nurse in the room, who was keeping an eye on mom… and mom was in her last hours of life on this earth.

In just a few hours, at about 8:10am, I would be awakened by the nurse, as she said…

I don’t think your mom has much longer to live.

…and I would stand up from the chair, turn and look at mom, and realize she had just taken her last breath.

It is hard to believe that a year has gone by since that day… and that now, she is with me only in heart and mind and memory…

Yet I know that mom is at peace, resting in the Lord’s Presence, and that there will come a day when I will see her again… (and dad… and Lemmy… both of whom got to heaven ahead of mom… I’ll see them all again)…

I miss all three of you…

I love all three of you…

…in everything, give thanks…

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How easy it is to rejoice and give thanks to God… when it is a beautiful day and the sun is out and the birds are singing and everything is going “your way” and “all is right with the world”…

But… how hard it is to rejoice and give thanks when that is not the case… during those times when life seems to be crashing in all around you and you feel as though you are engulfed and about to drown in one of the many storms that life can throw at you…

Rejoice and give thanks to God then???  Seriously???

Yet, that is what God’s word says we should do in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18:

Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

But… when a child of ours has died… when we are struggling to make ends meet financially, and no matter what we do, it doesn’t seem to be working… when we or a loved one has just been diagnosed with stage four cancer, and nothing was wrong two weeks ago… when the love of our life has just died, and there is a hole in our heart deep enough and wide enough that someone could drive a mac truck through… when we have been betrayed by someone we have loved and trusted… when we have been the one who has hurt another or done something illegal or unethical or immoral, and now we have to face the consequences of our choices… when life just isn’t working out the way we think it should, and there doesn’t seem to be anything we can do about it…

In these times and so many others not mentioned…

How can we rejoice?  How can we give thanks?

Perhaps in those difficult and challenging times, we can find a way to rejoice and give thanks to God…  if we can understand that it is NOT God’s will that these circumstances be happening in our lives…  and if we can realize that we will not be rejoicing about or giving thanks FOR the circumstances that are happening in our lives…

But if we can remember that no matter where we are in life, and no matter what is happening in our lives, that God is there to love us and to give us strength and courage and that God will walk with us through every circumstance that happens in our lives… even the ones we cause through our own sinfulness…

If we can remember that, maybe then we can find a way to rejoice and give thanks…

So why am I thinking about this today?

Because… the day is beautiful… and the sun is out… and the birds are singing… and everything is going “my way”… and “all is right with the world”… and I just thought how easy it was to rejoice and give thanks to God…

finding compassion in today’s world…

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Recovering a greater compassion may require us to confront the core values of our culture. We are a culture that values mastery and control, that cultivates self-sufficiency, competence, independence. But in the shadow of these values lies a profound rejection of our human whole ness. As individuals and as a culture we have developed a sort of contempt for anything in ourselves and in others that has needs, and is capable of suffering. It is not a gentle world.

As life becomes colder and somehow harder, we struggle to create places of safety for ourselves and those we love through our learning, our skills, our income. We build places of security in our homes and our offices and even our cars. These places separate us from one another. Places that separate people can never be safe enough. Perhaps our only refuge is in the goodness in each other.
~ Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D. in My Grandfather’s Blessings, p11