The cry of our hearts:
“Fully known and fully loved–forever.”
I am so looking forward to this new study from my friend, Erica Wiggenhorn!
The cry of our hearts:
I am so looking forward to this new study from my friend, Erica Wiggenhorn!
Those were the first words I read upon awakening this past Friday.
I hail from a large extended family and some I know better than others. Ben, not so well. But, his father, my cousin, is like a brother to me, having lived in our home for a substantial period of time when I was growing up. He gave me my first Beatles album. (Rubber Soul) He let me drive his pink corvette one day. He has an infectious smile and laugh. I have a million memories of and with him. Like each of us, he has strengths and weaknesses. Like me, He loves Jesus. I have dearly loved him as long as I can remember. Although he is miles away, I am grieving with him today and will be in the days to come. There is a hard road ahead.
Ben was his youngest. His one and only son, from a mother I have yet to meet. He was the child who most resembled him, from where I stand. He was the husband of a kind and beautiful wife who loved him and a sweet daughter he claimed. He had siblings who also grieve. Shockingly, his exit from this life on earth has been splashed across television screens which omit his name, for now. A devastating end to a sometime tumultuous life. But then, whose isn’t?
In the wee hours of the morning while riding his motor cycle on a deserted street in a town I once called home, Ben was struck by a car. His broken body slammed to the pavement and abandoned. A helmet lay on the ground near a single white shoe. A lone witness called for help as the driver of the car fled the scene, no doubt fueled by sheer panic and fear.
Emergency crews arrived to transport him to a local hospital, where a kind young woman tried to reach my sister, several states away, via Facebook. Having found Ben’s ID, she searched for his name there and and saw my sister as a friend and attempted to reach her in the hours before dawn. The kindness of strangers.
The witness at the scene of the accident shared information allowing the police to identify a suspect early on. He was urged to surrender and tell his story. His car was found, windshield shattered and other damage to the front. But he was in the wind.Truth be told, there was no where to run. Adding more sorrow to an already tragic situation, he was found dead, from what is assumed to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound. My mind shouts “senseless-tragic-why?” But- I am not God, hence I cannot comprehend the whys. But, what I do believe, is that God will somehow use it all for His purposes and our good as this sad story continues to unfold.
There is more “collateral damage” than is known to us. Both of the dead were 41 year old- young men who were sons and fathers, loved by those who suffer in sorrow today and who will grieve for many days to come. No doubt many will ask the perennial question, “why?” 1 Peter 5:8 reminds us that we have a ruthless enemy, described as “a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” He is always anxious to tear us away from everything that is good, every gift God freely offers us. By all we can see, it would that the enemy and his lies seem to have won this battle.
A mere three days into what might aptly be described as a nightmare, I have seen God’s hand at work in so many ways…in the kindness of strangers…in the emergency workers at the scene of the accident…in the witness who acted so quickly to call for help and to share information with the authorities… in the media professionals who withheld Ben’s name so as not to be the first to notify loved ones of his death…in the many who have reached out to both grieving families and– in the visit between a father and a son so recent that it had the finger prints of God all over it.
It is no coincidence that come July, this extended family of Ben and of mine, will once again gather together for a long ago scheduled reunion. We will celebrate an imperfect, unpredictable family that reaches far and wide across our country and the love and legacy we share. Unbeknownst to us until now, we will also grieve and celebrate Ben. Some of us will come to know him better in death than we knew him in life as we share stories and remembrances from those who knew him and loved him best. It is going to be a glorious time of remembrance, sprinkled with some grief, but not without joy.
The joy of the Lord is our strength. If you are grieving, and in need of comfort and encouragement, please won’t you open your Bible (or your device) to the following encouraging Words from the God of all comfort. It is my experience that
Please Read This and let me know how I can pray for you today:
When I made the decision to retire, I was surprised at the number of people who expressed to me their belief that I would be bored when I didn’t have a job to go to everyday. My response was the same, 100% of the time:
But– maybe also people who don’t plan for what’s ahead. If you are currently contemplating retirement, now is the time to begin building for that future. If you have already retired and feel like you’re floundering, it’s not too late to begin.
In a culture where often the first thing we are asked by a stranger after initial introductions is “what do you do?” is it any wonder that so many of us are largely defined by our work? I learned early on to view my work as a means to support my life vs my life supporting my work. For me that meant that while I worked hard to give my best effort, I also endeavored to maintain a life outside my job. It was often challenging to manage that goal.
I have a friend who had a very successful career in a field she loved. She retired after some health issues made it difficult to continue, but has since failed to thrive and is largely housebound. She is an example of one who was so involved in her successful career that she failed to build a life outside of it.
If you are approaching retirement, here are 10 suggestions to consider :
The beauty of retirement is that we have the freedom to choose where and when to spend our time and effort and with whom. It is NOT the time to burrow in for the winter. We are not groundhogs, people.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on how you’re either preparing to or are already thriving as you age.
Here’s to Blooming in Winter! With a little preparation it can be the icing on your cake.
“I cannot go to school today” said little Peggy Ann McKay. “I have the measles and the mumps…” So begins Shel Silverstein’s poem, SICK. Peggy Ann had no qualms about taking a sick day even if she wasn’t sick. I on the other hand…
I grew up in a household where to call in sick for work was severely frowned upon. With a fever of 102 degrees and a stuffed up head, I told my Dad that I was calling in sick for my shift. He schooled me quickly, letting me know that I needed to pull myself together and get to work. They were, after all, counting on my presence and should I not appear, my absence would impact the entire shift and everyone else left to run things. Mind you, I was not a brain surgeon or even a surgical nurse. I was, in fact, a clerk at Sav-On Drug. I was 19 and my responsibilities were to man the photo department and candy register. I know. Heady stuff. But, my Dad was pretty convincing and so I went to work with my fever, my congestion and a bottle of 7-Up sipped surreptitiously between customers. Crisis averted. The night shift team was saved.
This attitude toward calling in sick was firmly ingrained in my psyche. Over the years I showed up to work many, many times when I was clearly under the weather. After all, I had responsibilities to attend to, things that apparently I believed no one but I could handle , things only I knew how to do, my team was depending on me, etc. etc… While all that felt pretty admirable, in retrospect I realize it was also prideful and careless. In reality, people nearly always carry on when we aren’t there. Often, given the opportunity, they learn new skills and sometimes they shine and feel good about the skills you’ve helped them attain.
‘Truth is, if we are really good managers, we should always be grooming others to step into our shoes should we be unable to fill them. If we have an extended illness or some sort of personal catastrophe, we will then have prepared them for the task at hand and will also have done our employer a great service. As leaders we should be preparing others to step up to new challenges. In retrospect, the careless part of my behavior was that I put countless others at risk by coming to work while contagious and put those around me at risk. My immune system may have been hearty, but I was woefully oblivious to the danger I may have been exposing others to. Having lived nearly 6.5 decades now, I no longer take my health or that of others for granted.
Fast forward forty some years and while much had changed, my inclination to go to work “no matter what” was still quite the strong hold in me. My employer was “re-structuring” and as the newest addition to the area sales management team, I was the first to be downsized. When I got the call I expected, I was told my job had been eliminated. I was immediately asked if I would consider returning to the company should another position open up and I responded affirmatively. My next response was a question regarding my accrued sick time. The company policy was if you left the company, while you would be paid any accrued vacation time, any unused sick time would be forfeited. I had accrued nearly 200 hours of sick time, a benefit of my employment that I essentially was going to lose. I was assured that should I return to the company within the next year, those hours as well as my seniority would be reinstated.
Not three months later, they offered me another position , which I accepted and, as promised, all those unpaid hours returned to me. This was a pivotal moment in how I viewed sick pay. I made a three-pronged decision at that time:
From that day on, I vowed to stop pretending I was a super hero. The final five years of my professional life I acknowledged that the world would go on and work could get done in my absence. When I needed to go to the dentist or to a physician appointment for preventative care or for physical therapy, etc, I stopped doing so on my day off and used a sick day instead. When I had major issues going on in my life, or a family member was ill and needed care, I took a day or so off in order to serve my family and/or restore and rejuvenate my body and soul. While there were some instances when I believed my presence was imperative, they were rare. ‘Turns out I wasn’t as indispensable as I believed.
Sometimes our bodies need rest and sometimes our minds do. In both cases, when possible I scheduled sick days in advance, so my absence was not a hardship for those who would cover for me. But, if I woke up with a sore throat or a head cold, I learned to stay home, to rest and heal instead of sharing my germs with everyone else. When my husband had surgical procedures done, I took the day to be by his side to support him. I stopped being a workplace hero and started being more of a hero in my own home to the people I love most.
This was the same girl, who years earlier took less than a week off following a corneal transplant. My work ethic, instilled by my hardworking parents, was still strong, but I had failed to realize that our bodies need rest when they are worn down and that failing to give them time to rest and recover was shortsighted. It took losing the sick time I was so proud to have NOT used, to make me realize the folly of my actions. God knows me well and He knew exactly what it would take to adjust my perspective.
Please don’t misunderstand me, I am not in favor of calling in sick for every hang nail. I cannot tell you how often I took sick calls for young women unable to come to work a couple days a month because of menstrual cramps. I suffered with menstrual migraines for many years, but, I powered through and came to work. I want to be clear that I don’t believe we should call in frequently for minor ailments, but, for genuine health related concerns; sick time is for that very purpose- to maintain health and wellness so that we can do our best at home and at work.
When I retired three years ago, I left with less than one hour of accrued sick time. Prior to leaving I took care of all my looming health issues. I scheduled time with my dentist, physician, optometrist and chiropractor and used my accrued sick time to do so. I didn’t take it in big chunks but a day at a time as those appointments were scheduled in advance on days I knew would have minimal impact on my co-workers. At work I continued to give 100% to my employer. I made a good living and was compensated well. I mentored other employees and trained others to do my job and be promoted. I was a loyal team member who did her best everyday. For the last few years before retiring, when I was given opportunity to provide input on job satisfaction, I repeatedly brought up the issue of sick time not being paid to employees who faithfully executed their duties rather than calling in sick for every minor malady. Such employees should be rewarded for their loyalty, not punished. I was very grateful for the many opportunities my company had provided me and for the opportunity to do meaningful work with wonderful people, but. I left still hoping they would change their policy for future loyal employees.
Sometimes people don’t take the time they need because the work stacks up in their absence. I get that. But, working sick and/or exhausted is bad for you and everyone around you. So, do everyone a favor. Call in sick. And when necessary, call in well.
On this morning 17 years ago, I awoke to my radio alarm announcing that the World Trade Center had been hit by a plane. In my half conscious state, I stumbled out of bed and walked across the hall to my office where I turned on a television in time to see live, the second plane soar into the second tower.
For me, the world changed forever that day. An evil I had never known existed became a part of the fabric of my life. It had existed no doubt from the beginning of time as we know it, but, it entered my world that day and since then, I have walked through life differently. Not, in fear or in anxiety, but in the realization that evil is all around us in this broken world and that life is fragile.
May we for this one day, set aside our weapons of disagreement and strife and name calling and honor those who were taken?
May we take a moment to honor them and their unplanned, unexpected sacrifice and the sacrifice of all who loved them? Might we put down our disagreements and the political rhetoric long enough to agree that evil was present that day in a way most of us had never personally experienced before? May we grieve the losses and give honor? May we take comfort in the fact that such evil cannot consume us when our hope is in the One who made the ultimate sacrifice for us on the cross, that we might forever be free of the sting of sin and death? And may we be thankful for the freedoms we enjoy and the blessing we’ve been given by being citizens of this imperfect country?
Now, take heart. We do not walk in fear, but in confidence and in victory.
Don’t be deceived. There IS an enemy. The Bible tells us clearly in 1 Peter 5:8 that our enemy the devil is like a roaring lion, seeking whom to devour. He is real. But, in Christ, we have victory over him. He roars loudly, but, this lion? He has no teeth.