My One Word

Kindness

As the New Year approaches–much too quickly, I must add–I’ve been preparing for, and contemplating, my one word for 2018. My One Word is an experiment developed by Mike Ashcraft and Rachel Olsen to help people get past the disappointment of not being able to keep News Years Resolutions.

I used to be one of those that set New Years Resolutions with all the best intentions and, each year determined that “I was going to make it this year.” I was lucky if I ever made it to the end of January. Of course, the type of New Years Resolutions I set was a problem, too. The expectations I had for myself exceeded what was humanly possible.

From there I tried New Years Goals. For these goals I lighted up a bit, lowered my expectations to a human level, but still was unable to keep them. Once again, the type of goals I set, despite being on a human level, were still based on extremely high expectations. Since then I’ve learned to set bite-sized goals. Along with that change, I don’t hold myself accountable to flawlessly execute each goal the entire year. I’ve learned to give myself permission to mess up. Messing up doesn’t mean I’ve failed. Getting back on track after I’ve messed up means I’ve succeeded.

In the middle of these transitions, I came across My One Word. I’ve incorporated this genius idea into my goals. The concept is to decide upon a single word that signifies something you would like to work on throughout the year. In the past I’ve chosen Grace, Silence, Love, and Risk. My One Word for 2018 is…

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How can one go wrong with Kindness. And practicing it daily can only bring positive results.

I would love to hear if you decide to use the My One Word challenge for 2018, if you have used it in the past, or if you were to implement it, what word would you choose?

Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind.
― Henry James

 

Women’s History Month Spotlight – Ruth Bell Graham

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As far back as I can remember I’ve admired Ruth Bell Graham’s devotion to her husband and family. She’s always reminded me of the woman in Proverbs 31 – the woman I’ve always hoped to be.

Since I’ve gone through a divorce, I appreciate her strength and stamina even more. (This isn’t one of those “it was all his fault” stories, much as I wish it were. I fully claim my responsibility.) But even during those tumultuous times, when I was failing miserably at marriage, Ruth Bell Graham remained my mentor. It just takes me a while to learn. 🙂

I looked to her as a role model, as a woman who loved her husband, even when I’m sure she didn’t feel like it, (we all have those times, don’t we?) and yet she soldiered on with beauty and grace. Through her life, I’ve come to know that love is not just a feeling. It’s a choice. And learning that has made me one extremely happy, grateful, and blessed wife today.  Thank you Ruth.

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“The fact is that both husband and wife are rough when the marriage begins. They shape each other through the trials and struggles they face together. When a couple falls to their knees and prays together, that is where true shaping takes place. Those who abandon ship the first time it enters a storm miss the calm beyond. And the rougher the storms weathered together, the deeper and stronger real love grows.”  -Ruth Bell Graham

 

 

 

 

Women’s History Month Spotlight – Mary, Mother of Jesus

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As far back as I can remember, I wanted to be a mother. Little did I know back then, that role would far surpass any joy I’ve ever experienced. And that it would rocket my capacity to worry past the moon. I’m pretty sure I can count on one hand the number of nights of uninterrupted sleep I’ve had since my boys were born. And this month they turn 24 and 27!

Mary, on the other hand, knew she was going to lose her son. She knew she was going to give birth to the Lord of heaven and earth, and knew from Jesus himself what was forthcoming. Could you imagine? I’m not sure–no, I am sure–I would never have been able to handle that with such grace, such trust in God, such beauty, as she did. She was the epitome of what a mother should be.

I’ve kept journals for each of my boys until they were 12 years old. I wrote in those journals every day when they were younger, a little less frequently as they got older, but even then, at least a few times a week. I tried to capture the miracle of everything life gave them every single day – the joy, the hurts, the lessons. When I read those journals, it’s like experiencing those magical days of motherhood again. What a miracle! My boys have taught me the definition of real and unconditional love. They’ve taught me how beautiful it is to see life through the eyes of a child. And through it all, they’ve taught me to trust Jesus.

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Another miracle of being a mother? I’m a grandmother. And what a joy that is! 🙂

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Love One Another as I Have Loved You

Love one another as I have loved you.  -John 13:34

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For those of you who have been reading my blog for any length of time, you know my husband and I like to go bike riding. We have a stunningly beautiful trail that follows the river and goes into Denver, about 30 miles round trip. It’s also a trail that attracts many homeless men and women that set up camp along the river and under the overpasses.

Also, for those of you who have been reading my blog for the past couple of months, you know my sisters and I, as well as others we recruited, had a 30-day prayer challenge where we tuned into those around us and prayed for a stranger each day. That trail gives endless opportunities to pray for strangers in need.

And here’s where the two tie together.

About a month ago on one of our bike rides, I saw a person way up ahead crawling on the concrete trail. I watched as several bikes passed by this person, swerving around him, barely taking notice. As I approached him I heard him groaning, struggling to continue on. My husband was a ways behind me and I stopped by this young man, who was clearly homeless, and asked if he was okay. During this time, more bikes passed by, and those that looked, quickly glanced away. I asked him if he was okay, he said he was fine. We exchanged a few more words, he insisting he was fine. I got on my bike and continued, slowly, until my husband caught up to me. But when he did, I stopped. Something was keeping me from continuing. I couldn’t leave this man, hurt, in the middle of nowhere. I told my husband I had to go back and see what I could do.

Now, given the professions in which we work (my husband is a police officer and I work at a District Attorney’s Office), it’s all too easy to become skeptical and jaded about humanity. My husband didn’t think it was a good idea, thinking he might have been high on drugs or alcohol. But I insisted it didn’t matter if he was high or drunk, he was hurt. I could feel it in my gut. My husband agreed to turn around with me and go back.

As it turned out, he was hurt. He’d fallen the night before, thought his foot was likely broken, and was trying to make it into Denver. I asked him if I could call someone for him, he said he didn’t have anyone. I asked if I could call 911, he said he didn’t have any money, to just go ahead and he’d be fine.

I’d decided as soon as we reached Denver I would find someone who would know how to help this man. And the next mile was spent doing mental gymnastices trying to figure out how I could help him.

And then it happened. I heard in my head, the unmistakeable message, “You can’t help him, Rhonda, but I can. Ask Me.”

It was a clear message that gave me goosebumps on every square inch of my arms. God had placed this man in my path and I’d been so caught up in what I could do, that I nearly missed what I could do. This man was my stranger for the day, the one I was to pray for, and I nearly missed that golden opportunity.

When we reached Denver, I told my husband what had happened, and how it changed my heart. Once again, it struck me that praying for others blesses the person praying as much, if not more than, the one being prayed for.

On the way  back we saw him again. He smiled at us and we stopped. My husband pulled out his wallet and tried to offer him some help. The man said he couldn’t take the money, that he would be fine. That statement changed my husband’s heart. A homeless person refusing money??? Finally my husband said, “Please take it. It’s for me, not for you.” The man’s eyes pierced my husband’s heart, he took the offering and said, “Thank you for your blessing.”

Say what?!?

I believe God put that man in our path that day to change both my husband and me. My heart broke to see so many people pass by as if the man, crawling on the pavement, were nonexistent. As if they were afraid to notice him or too caught up in life to notice someone struggling. And it saddened me to think that that’s what has become of our society. Those that are homeless are every bit as precious in God’s eyes as anyone else. They are His children. And if someone passed by my children when they were struggling and hurt, it would rip my heart out.

Helping one another, helping to make life that can be beyond difficult easier for someone else, giving to another the grace and mercy that is so freely given to us–isn’t that what life is about?

Mother Teresa

Time to share – Tell me about a time you’ve helped someone else and how it changed you in ways you never expected.

 

 

Thankful Thursday – The Lives and Health of My Boys

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I clearly remember the phone call I received from my 16-year-old son while I was nearing the end of a workday.  “Mom, I saw someone shot.  They aren’t moving.  Mom, there’s so much blood.” And the line went dead.

I attempted to call him back immediately, my fingers numb and not even feeling the number keys.  No answer.  The thought of praying escaped me while I was consumed with fear._MG_0597

After calling 9-1-1 in a desperate attempt for answers, the dispatcher assured me my son was fine, to remain calm, and to keep calling him until he answered.

Calm?  Not a chance.  My adrenaline was speeding far too fast to slow down, much less be calm.

As I look back on that day, how he happened to be driving on a road at the very time two men were attempting to carjack several vehicles, the bullets that splayed past my son as the two suspects were shot by investigators, an officer stopping my son and telling him to call 9-1-1 while the officer kept his gun on the suspect, I realize God was in control.  Of that particular situation and of my son’s life.

And I am so thankful for his life and his health.  And for a God who protects and saves.

My son’s comment as he tried to process such a horrific scene as best a 16-year-old can, “It’s not like it is in video games.  There’s so much blood.”  And my response, “You’re right, son.  In life there are no do-over’s when it comes to death.  It’s for real.”

A hard lesson for a child.

I remember the phone call I received two years later about my other son, then 17 years old, as I had just gotten settled in the stands to watch a Colorado Rockies baseball game.

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“Ben had an accident at the pool.  He’s okay but they’re taking him to the hospital with a head injury.”

“He’s okay” and “head injury” in the same sentence created sparks of conflict in my mind.  Besides that, he was a lifeguard.  How could he have an accident? I tried to reason without success.

On a 30-minute car ride to the hospital that felt more like 3 hours, I arrived in time for tests to reveal it was more serious than they had thought.  He had brain bleeding and two neck fractures.  He was whisked off to a trauma hospital with me not a half of a step behind him, jumping in the ambulance beside him and the paramedic.

And once again, I realize God was in control of that particular situation and of my son’s life. And once again I am so thankful for my son’s life and his health.  And for a God who protects and saves.

The neurologist’s words, “A person normally doesn’t live from such an injury, much less walk again. You’re very lucky.”  And my whispered words, “God has a plan for your life, son.”photo (25)

I wasted too much time feeling sorry for myself, horrified by all of the “what-if” scenarios my mind circled around;  time wasted that I could–and should–have been praising Him for His presence.  For not “almost” taking my boys from me, but completely shielding them from real harm. For giving them protection and life.  Twice.

God gave me my boys not once, but twice.  He gave His own Son so that I may have mine forever.  Thankful?  Words cannot even begin to express.

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Here’s to a heart of gratitude from a parent for the lives of her children to the ultimate Parent of all.

All is Grace.

Back to the Basics

I’ve decided to take a week-long “partial” leave of absence from electronics.

I received an email the other day that contained a series of pictures, each with a brief caption beneath it, that had a profound effect on me. Let me share some of them with you here:

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A day at the beach

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Out on an intimate date.

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A visit to the museum

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Enjoying the sights

“I fear the day technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots.” -Albert Einstein

What affected me the most about this email is the truth that lay within. It’s a rare occasion that I don’t see several people talking on their phones or texting while driving. And there is no finger-pointing going on here, as I’m among the ones talking on the phone.

One of the weekend magazines in the paper I read this past Sunday had an article called “Massive Media,” and one of the sentences popped right off the printed page as I read it: Media went from a series of choices and a schedule of events to the air we breathe.

That same article also stated: With only 24 hours in a day, it isn’t possible to make a dent in everything that demands to be seen, listened to, read.

But how hard we try!

Some days, I’m so busy checking blog stats, Facebook statuses, Twitter feeds, emails (on two home accounts as well as my work account, and each email opened leads to further reading/link-clicking and mindless wandering), Internet surfing, checking for text messages, etc., that I miss the majority of the blessings in my day.

So what does a “partial” leave of absence look like?

For me it means taking a complete break from social media and engaging in social human interaction. It means being present with the people I’m with, rather than being unaware of their presence while I socialize elsewhere.

It means beginning my day with my good old-fashioned Bible rather than surfing for devotions online, which almost always ends up with me reading something completely unrelated.

It means keeping my cell phone on vibrate or silent so I’m not checking every beep I hear;  and checking for text messages once or twice a day is sufficient. In fact, rather than send a text, perhaps I will make the old-fashioned phone call to humanize the connection.

It means checking emails once per day, rather than every half hour which I have been known to do. No joke.

It means not checking my blog stats for an entire week, and get back to posting because I love to write and share; and connect with wonderful like-minded people.

It means no Internet surfing unless it’s research on my novel.

It means living with intention rather than mindless living.

I want to say that again, to get it into my own head if for no other reason: It means living with intention rather than mindless living.

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Here’s to writing a new page in my life’s story for seven 24-hour segments in a row. Perhaps it will be the start of something marvelous that will continue on.

And now it’s back off to Camp NaNo. 🙂

All is Grace.

 

T.G.I.F. – On Saturday

Gratitude

I’m a little late but didn’t want to let this post slip through the cracks. There’s so much to be grateful for that it seems a shame not to express it openly.

My top three for the past week:

3.)  Being a Minnesota girl, now living in Colorado for 17 years, going to the Minnesota Twins vs Colorado Rockies baseball game, sporting my Kirby Puckett jersey and cheering for both teams. It was a win-win. 🙂

2.)  My son’s “Good night Madre” in his own special tone as I call good night to him when turning in for the night. And the bonus when he comes out and gives me a hug. Is there anything sweeter?

1.)  God revealing to me that when others are irritating me, it’s usually not them, but rather a reflection of where I am and my own mental state at that moment.

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”  John F. Kennedy

I would love to hear the top of your list for the week.

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All is Grace.