PeRsPeCtIvE

It was Christmas morning and I was savoring the quiet of my home, having celebrated with family the night before. The husband was downstairs reading his news and I, nestled under the covers, a cup of coffee in hand and a sleeping dog at my feet, was remembering the long expected news that I awakened to on Christmas Eve. The message read:

A lifelong friend released her beloved mother to her final destination, after five weeks of hospice care at home. She was a neighbor when I was growing up, one of my own mother’s dearest friends and a woman who touched my life significantly. She spent her first Christmas on streets of gold in a new home specifically prepared for her.

John 14:1-2

PERSPECTIVE

Putting the finishing touches on Christmas eve prep’, I discovered an army of ants taking possession of two pies and a package of dinner rolls. When I say an army, I mean hundreds of tiny black ants that have been terrorizing our home for the last several months. They were currently having a picnic at the expense of my sanity. I frantically summoned my husband and sent him on a replacement mission as I contended with eliminating the swarming soldiers that had overrun my laundry room. I was sharply scolding said ants in very stern tones, feeling very sorry for myself, when I was reminded that my friend lost her mother just hours ago.

How it shoulda been

PERSPECTIVE

Three dozen cookies, baked, frosted and artfully drizzled with chocolate, prepared to be gifted to my neighbors and ready to be transferred to the refrigerator, slide out of my hands landing face down on my kitchen floor after hours of labor invested. Peppermint icing and chocolate syrup splashed onto cupboards and floors mocking any thought of delivery to anyone. Woe is me. Then I am reminded that my cupboards are full and my troubles are few.

How it Was

PERSPECTIVE

An hour later we’re walking into Christmas Eve services when I catch site of my dear friend Nancy, she with a scarf wrapped around her head and a mask over her face as she recovers from a recent stem cell transplant. In the interest of limiting the possiblity of infection of any sort, she has been largely unable to leave her home, let alone worship in our large congregation for many, many weeks. The sight of her fills my eyes with grateful tears and heart to overflowing. Great joy.

Day Made

PERSPECTIVE

A friend shares that in the midst of a trying conflict with one of her children, she gets in her car, upset and discouraged at the failure to find peace. She proceeds to back out of her garage when she catches sight of a neighbor whose own child was killed in an act of violence recently. In an instant she was reminded that despite the momentary disharmony in her own home, she still had her child.

PERSPECTIVE

There is great unrest in our world. We hear news that more Christians in Nigeria have been beheaded by representatives of the Islamic State. Daily we are bombarded by reports of our own leaders slinging horrifying accusations at one another and our culture becomes more devisive by the moment. Those who accuse others of hate, speak their own hate. Facebook reports another missing person every day and what was once shamed is celebrated. Even so, the entire world paused to celebrate the birth of a king who came to save us from our sin. There is still hope in this chaos.

PERSPECTIVE

I give little time and attention to politics or our changing culture, except to pray, for our leaders, all of them, that they would be wise, that they would do good, and that they would be used for God’s purposes here on earth. I don’t trouble myself with the details of who said what. Some may say I’m willfully ignorant of what is happening around me. The truth is, I don’t believe our problems are political or even cultural. I believe our problem is spiritual and hence I take the spiritual road to address them. If I look at the condition of our world, the sorrow of death, the frustrations of daily life and allow them to discourage me, I will be without hope. Instead, my hope is firm.

PERSPECTIVE

They say hindsight is 2020. Well, here we are. It’s 2020. Nostalgia is fine in small doses but to immerse oneself in it too deeply or too frequently generally results in rewriting history, smoothing out the rough edges and idealizing what was while missing what is. Right now. Looking back is useful only if we learn from it and repent from behaviors less than stellar. To repent is to make a u-turn. To learn from the past is useful. To live in the present, with perspective is priceless.

Write On

It’s safe to say that no one was more shocked than I that Friday morning in 1972 when my name was announced. The panel of judges had chosen me as the first prize winner for news writing at the 19th Annual Press Day at El Camino College. Sitting in the darkened auditorium awaiting the results, I had zero hope or expectation of being recognized. In all honesty, I had strongly considered not even showing up that day as nearly 400 student journalists from 17 South Bay high schools convened to compete. It was truly a last minute decision to jump into my ’65 Mustang and head to the competition. What the heck. All my friends were going, so, why not?

The South Bay Daily Breeze gave me my fifteen minutes of fame…

I remember hearing speakers, attending the informational session and being told to write a news story about it. I was as nonchalant about the contest as a seventeen year old girl could be, still pondering whether to even bother to write the assigned article or not, with no thought of a win. I was already there, and the time was going to pass anyway, so why not just write and get my participation badge?

When I look back on that day, nearly half a century earlier, I view the experience through different lenses. I now see that day as confirmation that I am, indeed, a writer- that I was born with an ability and a desire to write. This, not because I worked so hard at it, or because I studied long or honed my craft– not because I was the best prepared, but, because God gifted me with something that He wanted me to use for His glory. When I least expected to be recognized, He singled me out and shined a light on the gift He gave.

Redondo’s HIGH TIDE featured all the winners on the front page.
My very brief moment of high school glory!

Though there was a time when I had aspirations to write on a grander scale, I am happy now to share my little stories here with you, whoever and wherever you may be. I will continue write to share with you the meaningful moments and lessons He blesses me with, as I endeavor to fully live this beautiful, difficult, joyful, challenging and precious life He has called me to. Gifts are meant to be shared, so, I will write in response to the One who gives and Who consistently reminds me to pass it on. The act of processing life through these humble words is my response to the Giver of all good gifts. It matters not whether only one person or a million reads them. He made me a writer and, so, I must write.

I am well aware that blogs like this are a dime a dozen and that there is a plethora of writers far more eloquent than I. I am a little fish in a big pond. My aim is not for wealth or fame or a certain number of followers. In fact, the older I get, the more I crave a quiet life. Still, in the rhythms of my quiet, everyday life, I see the simplest moments as stories waiting to be told.

What gifts might you be hoarding that He intended you to give away? No matter where you are in life, it’s not to late to begin. Take a step of faith. Give it away.

“Keep Swimming…”

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I make my home in Southern California and if you aren’t already aware,  we are probably the beauty/fitness Mecca of the world.  I live very near a beach community and believe me when I tell you, we are bombarded on every side with images of young, beautiful people trying to convince us that the fountain of youth can be ours if only we take the right supplements, drink the right potions, use the right hair color, join the right gym, slather on  the right moisturizer, wear the right clothes, apply the right make-up and eat the right foods.  Whew!  ‘Sounds like a full-time job, right?  Because it is.

Before you  feel the urge to start defending any of these practices, let me assure you, I subscribe to a number of them.  I try to eat right, I have a  gym membership and I still throw a little paint on the barn once I’ve applied my moisturizer.  So, don’t get your hackles up just yet.  Although I no longer color my hair, I still pay regularly for a great cut, so,  be assured, I’m not advocating lack of self-care and/or looking your best. I still aim for that bullseye.

What has changed for me in the last several years, is my motivation.  For most of my life I did all of those things hoping to meet a standard that was mostly unattainable.  Sadly,  that didn’t keep me from chasing that rabbit. I’m pretty sure  I have been on nearly every diet known to man.  My hair has been every color in the rainbow.  Heck, I even went pink three years ago, for a  hot minute!  I worked out hoping for firm thighs and the end of cellulite.  That was never fully realized.   But, when I retired prematurely a couple of years ago, largely for health reasons, the impetus for self-care changed.

A couple of visits to the ER and Urgent care revealed that my blood pressure and cholesterol were  both crazy high and I was deemed “pre-diabetic.”  Predictably,  the docs wanted me to immediately go on medications to address my symptoms.  Fortunately,  I found a physician who agreed  that I would first attempt  to change those numbers by instituting new  habits pertaining to diet and exercise.  Overnight, my new goal was to be healthy!  I wanted  be able to live my life as long as possible without prescription drugs.  I did so under a physician’s care and had I not had positive results,  I would certainly have taken prescribed medications to address the issues at hand. I was very fortunate and for the time being, I still take no prescription medications.  That said, I will continue to monitor my health and respond appropriately in the future should medication become necessary.

Today my  weekly routine includes  two  to three low impact aerobics classes  and usually at least one Zumba or other dance class that I enjoy.   I also walk with a group of women one morning a week where we complete a 5K together, enjoying the ocean view while getting our heart rates up.  The coffee meet up afterward is icing on the cake, without the calories.  The husband and I walk our dogs together daily, too.   I seriously guard my scheduled work out times and  when I set aside time to do so, I aim to make it worth the time I’ve dedicated to it. I work hard.  I’ve also vowed to  consciously eat less  meat, sugar and fatty foods while consuming  more fruit, veggies and fiber.  I’m not a huge fan of cooked veggies but I’ve learned to incorporate them into hot soups and  eat more salads, less bread and fewer desserts. Diet sodas have been replaced with flavored mineral water and sweet treats are fewer and far between.

The results?  I am no longer pre-diabetic. My blood pressure has dropped substantially as have my cholesterol counts.   In the latter months of 2017 I shed 14 pounds with the help of  a great APP’ called LOSE IT. (Find it in the APP store!)  I am healthier than I’ve been in decades and I’m wearing an entire new wardrobe that’s been patiently waiting in my closet to fit me again and my husband is thrilled with my improved appearance.   My Apple Watch was a great investment for me, reminding me ten minutes before every waking hour if I’ve been sedentary too long.  It’s a gentle nudge that keeps me moving and shooting to “fill my rings” on the fitness application.

As new habits have become more routine, many of the lenses I once viewed life through have been adjusted.  I no longer compare myself to others who may be younger or thinner or don’t have smile lines around their mouths and eyes.  I now see those as marks of contentment.  When greater health became the goal, my appearance changed for the better as an after product.    I will never be a waif of a gal, nor will my waist ever compare with Scarlett O’Hara’s.  Today, I am more than okay with that.   I  recognize there is more to life than how I look.  Far more.  I am abundantly aware that I have everything I need and many things I don’t. There’s a lot of icing on my cake.   I am not wealthy by standards of our culture, but, I am rich.  Filthy rich.  (kudos to  Francis Chan for making that crystal clear)

This life is such an adventure and I don’t want to miss any of it.  I may fall off the wagon on occasion,  but,  like the main character in the animated feature, “Finding Dory,”  I intend to keep swimming!

What are you waiting for?  Jump in! The water’s fine.