I finally made it up in time to see the sunrise. I love being up early, but getting up is another story!

I can’t shake the image of the video I saw of George Floyd. I was late seeing this because I had turned off the TV and extra social media for a couple of days in an effort to focus. Now that I have seen it, it’s definitely difficult to focus.

I think about the emphasis we put on tolerance. But tolerance isn’t enough. Tolerance doesn’t welcome and embrace. It only scratches the surface of what our creator asks of us. Tolerance doesn’t switch courses for the sake of another person. Tolerance doesn’t interrupt one’s bias, sacrifice, or swallow pride. Tolerance is something we do for something, not someone. For many people, tolerance fulfills man’s capacity and is a disguise for something far greater.

God did not say, “Thou shalt tolerate your neighbor.” He went deeper and further than we can imagine. He commanded us to love our neighbor as ourselves. When asked, Jesus said that all the law, and the prophets, hang onto this.

This is not love as we know it. We cannot grasp this kind of love without seeing it through the eyes of our creator. We get a glimpse of it in 1 Corinthians 13:1-13We will begin to understand it when we practice it.

Tolerance is not enough.

It’s here; Mother’s Day 2020, and the lily has opened. I’ve been willing this bloom all week to hold out for today. I’m not sure it’s opened any further since yesterday, but I’m claiming that for Mother’s Day it’s bigger and better. In the midst of a pandemic, if a little imagination, or exaggeration helps us see the forest through the trees, or see a lily increase its bloom size by a minuscule amount, then hooray for us. That would be called a victory.

The sun is shining, my yard is blooming, and my favorite show is featuring Bobby Flay and my favorite breakfast.

I will see my kids with some spacial distancing later. I can enjoy this day.

I know moms whose day is not much different today than it was yesterday. That while I’m rejoicing in lilies and sunshine, they can’t see beyond a child tugging on her PJs, asking for breakfast, the potty, or protection from an aggressive sibling. She does her best to suppress guilt as the TV blares in the background, and in zombie mode pours breakfast into a bowl.

She needs extra prayers. She needs extra help, extraordinary strength, and words that propel her to the next step, the next day.

She needs to be reassured that cereal is ok. That TV isn’t the bad guy, and that being there is what her child needs.

That she is the Horton who hatches the egg.

OK… I did reposition the book for the photo shoot. It’s often underneath on the lower shelf.

When Bradley was born we received the book, “Horton Hatches the Egg.” (Jan…if you read this, it’s from you). It is my favorite Dr. Seuss book. I won’t go into how much I love Dr. Seuss, but I would be happy if someone like him appeared on my EHarmony matches. The book sits on my coffee table.

The most beautiful message of all are on these pages. It’s about love that Paul speaks of in 1 Corinthians 13:1-7 (even though it’s difficult to stop at verse 7). Love that leans in and perseveres. Love that requires sacrifice of self and pride.

The opening page says:

“Sighed Mayzie, a lazy bird hatching an egg: “I’m tired and I’m bored

And I’ve kinks in my leg

From sitting, just sitting here day after day.

It’s work! How I hate it!

I’d much rather play!

I’d take a vacation, fly off for a rest

If I could find someone to stay on my nest!

If I could find someone, I’d fly away-free…”

You can see where this is going.

Horton the elephant (a dude) is the someone who rescues Mayzie’s egg, when she decides to take a rest, and doesn’t return. I know I should save this for Father’s Day, but it doesn’t matter who you are, when it is you who commits to the nest.

The final pages end with Horton hatching an Elephant Bird. The crowd says:

“My goodness! My gracious!” they shouted. “MY WORD! It’s something brand new!” IT’S AN ELEPHANT-BIRD!!

And it should be, it should be, it SHOULD be like that!

Because Horton was faithful! He sat and he sat!

He meant what he said

And he said what he meant…”

…And they sent him home HAPPY, One hundred per cent!”… that’s how Seuss wrote that, not me (which is why I love him… oh, sorry, not getting into that).

So for that mom who doesn’t have a crowd, or a person, applauding and affirming all she is and all she does: YOU ARE ADMIRED. One day, you will be sent home happy…

ONE HUNDRED PERCENT.

I am 60. I am 60. I hear that over and over in my head. I envision a circle of people, acknowledging they have a problem, and then I realize my only problem is that I have a problem being 60, not that I am 60.

Our family tradition. It’s not pretty, but it’s my favorite, and even more so, because Bridgette surprised me by keeping our tradition going.

I’m healthy, so any issues I have about turning 60 are emotional, and really, given our current situation, I need to get over it. But I never just “get over” anything. I need to make sense of it.

I’ve been reconciling advancing in age with every birthday since about the age of 50. For the last ten years I am more anxious about the things I haven’t yet accomplished. Write a book, start a non profit for people who suddenly find themselves single who don’t have family to hold them up, host a fundraising dance party where I get to choose all the music. Hike in France, dine in Italy, where my daughter couldn’t find the words to describe its freshness, and where Phil from “I’ll Have What Phil’s Having” describes local food culture that inspires me to work hard so one day my ship will come in, and deliver me to the gelato shop he featured.

Age is not just a number, any more than money is just a number. I avoided the topic of “60” as long as I could. Now, it’s not just about “running out of time,” but the wrinkles in my hands, neck, and face remind me, no, yell at me, that the truth of my age will no longer be ignored. April 16th approached. And now the COVID virus has joined me in my emotional journey.

One minute I’m grateful for the silver linings that this experience affords us, and the next minute I feel like Christmas is tomorrow and I haven’t purchased one gift, and all the stores are closed. From “Embrace and relax.” to “Get yoself out of bed and get to it. You’ve got a gelato shop in Italy to visit!”

I understand Paul, the epitome of flesh and spirit, a living example of the struggles within.

Like a cold that doesn’t leave me bedridden, yet has me constantly reaching for the tissue, I am working on this issue. Monday was my “birthday week,” which meant it was time to get serious about this project: my turning 60 emotions.

I have a weird fondness for these cyclist images on the road.

Monday started with a bike ride. It was a cool spring morning with a bright blue sky behind bursting buds of pink and white. I pedaled up a familiar path, out of the “saddle” (feeling like an imposter using cyclist language). My route wasn’t pre-planned, but I’d vowed to ride twelve miles. I titled my ride: BYE BYE CREAM STUFFED PASTRY AND CREAM PIE, in honor of the two Easter meals provided to me by my friend.

I’ve lived in this part of town for twenty years, so I’m comfortable navigating my way around. I take in the spring colors popping up in manicured lawns and the smell of fresh bark dust. So, my ride will be familiar. I can relax and focus on the traffic and my path, watching for obstacles that could disrupt a very good experience.

I begin my conversation with God. In this moment I want to talk to him about being 60. I begin by acknowledging what is good in my life. My bike that continues to operate, has yet to fail me, and that I am 60 and riding it (even up off the saddle) is reason to thank him.

Gratitude overcomes me, and the route transforms from slightly mundane to glorious. I am capable, I am able, I am healthy. I am grateful for this body, this bike, this community, and for the plain good fortune of experiencing “this,” when so many are suffering and so much is at stake.

After gratitude come my pleas to God. Pleas for my children, pleas for friends, for my Valentine’s Day relationship, pleas for our president, my church staff, and our world, pleas for overcoming the learning curve in my business, and pleas for success in my business. In the midst of praying for one dear friend, I look to my right to see the word VICTORY. It’s among other Nike shrine like buildings that are emerging on Nike Land. A weird sense of warmth towards Nike envelops me, and I thank God, and Nike for this encouragement.

Thank you, Nike.

Gratitude is a popular (and necessary) strategy for overcoming emotions that can send us down an ugly rabbit hole. We are instructed to use it faithfully.

But for me, before gratitude, is God. He opens my eyes and expands my heart. He’s a light that exposes what we already know to be true, but forget when the clouds dim our view.

John 1: 5 says, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” Referring to Jesus.

In my efforts to reconcile what I am losing, I forget what I have. What I have gets lost, and what I don’t have emerges and somehow gets preferential treatment. But my communion with God exposes what is true. Sometimes that is my own greed or vanity. And in that truth, I can see more clearly what is right before me, on this day, in this moment, and discover the beautiful perspective that empowers me for another day, another person, another purpose.

God + Gratitude = Beautiful Perspective.

Here’s to “Getting Over It.”

 

 

 

 

Welcome to the club. That’s what Jim said as he pulled the needle from my arm. “You’ve saved at least one person’s life. You can’t do better than that.” I gulped and resisted a moment of emotion that I didn’t want to reveal. “Awe, thank you Jim. You and Alanna made it so painless. Thank you for what you are doing,” I said.

I’ve felt like I should be doing more. I’ve helped a friend out here and there. I’ve offered my Juggle Source services for free, and my prayer list is long, but I wasn’t sinking my teeth into anything where I could see an impact. There are so many people on the front lines, it’s hard not to be part of the equation when I am seemingly healthy. Instead, I’ve spent hours designing products and learning the skill of maintaining an Etsy store with T-shirts and other products. I recognize how crucial it is that I am creative and generate an income. I would tell anyone that’s what they too should do. Yet when life is so broken, I want to fix something. And now with what seemed like a small amount of energy, I had fixed something. No, I had saved someone. Jim said so. And he welcomed me to the club.

Over the last many years I’ve been admitted to “clubs” that I would have rather not joined, but because the direction my life took, I’d become an unwilling member. That is life. Most of us have become a member of some club we’d rather not join. Single, unemployed, illness,… the list is long. I’m starting another club: The Coronavirus Carb Club. We insiders can call it Triple C. If you know what this is, you are automatically admitted. Criteria is that you have to have had at least one baked good a day for the last week, homemade or store bought. It doesn’t matter. OK… I’m going to loosen up the criteria. If your Go To has been chips and salsa or potato chips, you’re also a member.

Being welcomed into the club felt honorable. Here I’m talking about Jim’s club, the American Red Cross, not Triple C. In the past, I’d been turned away for one reason or another. This time I was accepted. Good weight (thank you, Carb Club), good iron count, good blood pressure. Woo Hoo! Being fifty-nine in a day of coronavirus, this was good news. I had a weird sense of accomplishment, like a little satisfaction that in the face of being of “that group,” I could beat the odds. Not that I will tempt them.

Right now we are all members of a club that we didn’t choose. It’s the Coronavirus 2020 Club. There is one condition: you are alive. You don’t live in a particular country, county, or city to qualify. It is not income or socio-economic dependent. There is no consideration to profession, education, social status, race, political party, or religion. There is some preference to a certain age group (that I will not repeat), and people with underlying health conditions. But still all people in the world are active members, even if slow to accept this status.

There are a whole lot of downsides to this club. Initiation is a steep expectation to sacrifice mobility and submit to authority. For some, we will do it because we respect or fear authority. For others, we will do it because we want to do our part in keeping others safe. For some it’s to keep ourselves safe. For many, it’s for all these reasons. But some cannot conceive of the absurdity of an invisible attack on human kind. And it does seem absurd. We all recognize that this virus doesn’t line up with what we, especially Americans, know in our world of modern day medicine. These individuals can’t get past this, or some won’t let something stand in the way of progress and living their lives. Especially something they can’t see. The invisible enemies are always the hardest to confront.

In spite of our perspective, we’re all part of the club. Rules for membership are given to us via an overwhelming number of sources: TV, radio, Internet, social media, and each other. I access it all, every day, although, I’ve begun to take breaks. I even spotted info on a piece of paper lying in the middle of the road yesterday. Because it didn’t have Dr. Fauci’s name on it, I decided to place it in the garbage. We must sift through a lot of the info we hear and see, and do the same, place it in the garbage.

Really, there are three simple (not easy) rules:

  • Stay home
  • Wash your hands often
  • Keep six feet between yourself and others

Everything else is a variation of that or instructions on how to accomplish those things. 

This experience is the great equalizer. We’re all subject to the same threat and must figure out how to cope. And that we are. Before we joined this club, we often suppressed emotions, some so foreign we couldn’t identify them. So we could take on the demands of the day, we kept them at a distance, way more than six feet away. If they tried to persist, we’d be on to the next thing, never allowing grief, loneliness, insecurity, or others, to crack open that door.

Today’s rules force us to slow down, give in, submit, and stay put. Our emotions have a chance now. We can’t use our calendar of daily activities as an escape. Whatever we’re feeling as a result of this new world demands our attention, whether we like it or not. Just like Hoda Kotb’s sadness erupted without warning for all the NBC viewers to see. We think we are fine. We want to be fine. And then we are not.

But here they are, our emotions. We get to welcome them, and transform them. We don’t send them away. We don’t dwell in them. They are not to be feared. We stop. We talk with a friend. We listen to music. Sadness, loneliness, and uncertainty joins us in the moment. We say hello, acknowledge them, and in the process we discover our humanity again. We embrace them, and invite them to be useful. Our feelings of hopelessness can choose to be hopeful. Helplessness gets to choose to be helpful. Discouragement gets to choose to encourage.

I hope you feel the camaraderie of this experience that we are sharing across our city, our state, our country, and across our world, like never before in our lives. It isn’t a them and us. This is a “we.” In China, New Zealand, or Hawaii, we join God’s people all over the world. This is really really hard for them, and for us. This is really really good for them, and for us. Welcome to the club.

There are three things that I just know God created because of his abundant love for us: sports, music, and coffee. Forgive the mix of genre, but I love all three so much. And by sports, I mean competition. I suppose a person could entertain us with his basketball shooting skills on a YouTube video, but without competition, it isn’t the same.

But like you, I see so many wonderful talents via Facebook and You Tube, and I want to share them all. But since I’ve been posting more than usual for connection, and a lot as I market Juggle Source and my new Etsy Store products, I have refrained from the myriad of things I want to share with everyone!

But I have to share this. We’ve lost our sports. But hallelujah, music prevails.

It’s the Garth Brooks Gershwin Prize Season 2020 on PBS. It was an amazing experience of artists honoring Garth Brooks, with performances by Christ Stapleton (unbelievable), Trisha Yearwood (tear jerker!), and Keith Urban. But the highlight was Garth’s performances alone, in the second half. When you watch this performance, it’s clear why he was admitted to this particular club.

And thank you Jimmy Fallon for being the funniest person on earth. My schedule has been completely disrupted, and I owe some of that to you.

 

Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.  John 1: 3-5

This notebook is not my “look.” In fact, I think it’s ugly. It was one of the few things I inherited when my mom died. I knew it had its place; in my purse and out of view. It reflects my mom’s personality, and using it for God’s word was a perfect way to honor her. I decided to use this ugly little thing for the most beautiful thing: Promises that would inspire me when I needed it, or inspire others for the same reason.

MY PRAYER

Jesus, you are my life. May your light show me what you see, beyond what is right before me, and into the hearts of those around me. May your light reveal what is true and right and forever. Whatever my eyes see or I perceive, may your light provide better vision that will give hope where there is darkness, and light the path that leads myself and others toward restoration.

 

Forgive my horrible writing. In the moments when I write in this book, I’m usually cramming the gem onto the page, determined to retain the comfort for another time, but not concerned with my penmanship. I wish I could share this with you with pride in my writing style. If I could, I’d have my friend who writes beautiful calligraphy enter them. They deserve that attention.