Love and Support


How
Did the rose
Ever open its heart
And give to this world
All its
Beauty?
It felt the encouragement of light
Against its
Being.
Otherwise,
We all remain
Too
Frightened
          ~Hafiz

I think everyone is afraid of something. It’s what makes us human. I know people who are afraid of public speaking, love, intimacy, spiders, bees, death, and interviews. The important thing to remember is to never make fun of someone’s fear or discount it in any way. Fear is real to the person experiencing it, and it can be paralyzing in its effect.

The quote above was sent to me in an email today. It made me realize how much I have needed the support and encouragement of someone at times in my life for difficulties I have been experiencing, but the person I reached out to couldn’t give it. We can’t give what we ourselves don’t have.

Sometimes we’re unable to give to others what they need because we are too stressed ourselves. Sometimes we’ve never experienced the quality another is looking for from us; therefore we cannot relate to what is needed. In the process, feelings get hurt, misunderstandings occur, relationships end, and communication breaks down.

To me, that is incredibly heartbreaking. We are all hurting human beings in some way, shape, or form; and we need to be an encouragement to one another. We need to reach out in love and be kind even when we don’t know how to provide what the other person needs. Sometimes just being honest can do wonders. We aren’t always capable of walking in another’s shoes and experiencing life as they have, but we can sit down and listen as they attempt to explain what they are going through. Sometimes they just need to know that someone cares.

When all else fails, a hug speaks volumes. Acknowledging a person’s feelings is sometimes all that is needed. Giving them a sense that they are loved and valued is priceless. When I know I’m loved and valued, I open up like the rose in the poem. I perform better, my outlook on life is brighter, and I feel invigorated.

If reading this post has brought someone to your mind today, send them a quick note to let them know you appreciate them. It may just be the very thing they need to brighten their day.

Come on now … let’s spread some sunshine together!
Lori Lynn

Dreams and Purpose


I want to remember that no one is going to make my dreams come true for me … it is my job to get up every day and work toward the things that are deepest in my heart … and to enjoy every step of the journey rather than wishing I was already where I want to end up. — Anonymous

Miracles start to happen when you give as much energy to your dreams as you do to your fears. — Anonymous

God is so good. A few years ago, I would have never guessed I’d be where I’m at today, but He has blessed me so abundantly.

I met Max on an employer-sponsored trip to Australia. We sat next to each other on the flight over. He was so funny. We started talking, and I felt like I had known him forever. During our trip, we spent the majority of our time together. We found we had so much in common, having lived in many of the same places over the years.

Max is much more outgoing and adventurous than I am, which I absolutely love. He brings me out of my shell and makes life fun; but he isn’t too adventurous … he doesn’t take unnecessary risks.

Max and I enjoy being in each other’s company, but we also enjoy doing our own thing. We love to travel (the majority of the time together) and have gone to such exciting places as Iceland and Bora Bora. When I’m busy working on a book, he is usually busy putting together a business deal. He’s taught me so much. I’ve always wanted to do philanthropic work, and now I have the chance. Max is a venture capitalist, who does a lot of work with nonprofits.

Last year, Max and I flew to New York in September to kick of a gala for The Jazz Gallery. This past August, we flew out to Napa Valley to attend the V Foundation’s fundraiser to help support brain cancer research. We try to get involved in two major events per year and are hoping to create our own foundation next year to help end human trafficking. We’re in the process of lining up a trip to India in May to meet with our associates there.

It will be a busy year. My next book is due out in August, so I will have to make the most of every opportunity and use my time wisely. Luckily, Max and I will be in New York again in December (we go every year to see Chris Botti play at The Blue Note on New Year’s Eve), so I’ll be able to meet with my publisher then as well.

Once the foundation is off to a good start, I’m thinking about going on the speaking circuit. God has laid on my heart a desire to minister to lonely, hurting, brokenhearted people who, because of poor choices they’ve made, find life isn’t going quite like they expected it would go. Through my writing and my speaking, I hope to inspire and encourage them to find their way to a better place … a place of hope and purpose, a place of love and fulfillment.

I am so grateful for Max. He has inspired me, loved me, and helped me to blossom into the person God created me to be. He makes me laugh, he values my opinion, and he encourages me to pursue my hopes and dreams. He has helped me to see that I am a person worth loving, a person with a lot to offer to others. He’s the mentor I’ve been searching for forever and my very best friend. We can sit and chat for hours, or we can spend hours together not saying a word, just enjoying being in each other’s presence. I think what makes it work so well is that we appreciate one another. We spend so much time apart—Max with his business and me with my writing—that when we are together, we fully value that time.

We enjoy doing lots of things … we especially love cooking. Most Saturday mornings, you will find us at the local farmer’s market or the local fish market. We then go home and do our own thing until midafternoon, when we meet in the kitchen, turn on some jazz, pour a glass of wine, and create our dinner. Sometimes we go out to see a movie afterwards or curl up on the couch and see what’s showing on Netflix.

I never used to get outside much, and I missed it desperately (having grown up in the country). Since meeting Max, I now spend a lot of time outdoors. We hike, bike, go kayaking enjoy picnics in the park, or go rowing. We both love sailing, and Max is slowly teaching me about cat paws and rigging. I may never be the captain, but I sure do enjoy the wind in the sails! There’s just something about blue skies and water that does a soul good.

My kids love Max. They appreciate his sense of humor as much as I do, and they are thrilled that he takes an interest in what is going on in their lives at any given moment. I’ve noticed that they often seek Max out for advice and use him as a sounding board for ideas they are contemplating.

Arianna has settled in Virginia and has taken a teaching job at a private school in the DC area. Josh is finishing his PhD in Economics at MIT. He did an internship at the UN last summer and is hoping to get a permanent job there after he graduates. Lexie is finishing up her Master’s at the Vermont College of Fine Arts. She couldn’t decide if she wanted to continue to pursue a career in forensics pathology or pursue her writing. The writing won out, but it’s interesting to see that a lot of her stories deal with medical issues and hospitals. Nothing much has changed there.

I have learned that God really does use all things for good, and He does restore souls. He has restored mine. He has redeemed my life, and He has redeemed my children. Healing has come, and it is good.

Lori Lynn

Author’s Note: Max is not real, but he is based on a dear man I fell in love with in my 20s. This story is based on a writing assignment I was given a year ago where we were told, if you were to write your own ideal story, what would your story look like. This was my story. 🙂

Fear … Is It Holding You Back?


Fight your fears and you’ll be in battle forever; face your fears and you’ll be free forever. — Lucas Jonkman

Everything you want is on the other side of fear. — Jack Canfield

We stopped checking for monsters under the bed when we realized they were inside of us. — Charles Darwin

Fear is only temporary. Regret lasts forever!

Fear is the brain’s way of saying that there is something important for you to overcome. — Rachel Huber

What we fear doing most is usually what we most need to do. — Ralph Waldo Emerson

Fear is a powerful thing. Depending upon how we view it, it can paralyze us or spur us on to greater things.

I have a dear friend who is terrified of intimacy in relationships. He wasn’t always this way. He met a girl once whom he fell head-over-heels in love with, so much so that it scared him. He had been in love before but never to such a degree that he felt out of control, and it was that lack of emotional control he couldn’t handle. The relationship lasted for about four years, until the girl finally got tired of his shenanigans of pulling away and saying they needed to see other people. She decided that could go on forever and decided it was time to let go.

Now, 25 years later, the girl is back. She contacted my friend, whom she never stopped loving, in an attempt to restore the relationship they could have had if both of them hadn’t messed it up so badly. He wants nothing to do with her, not because he doesn’t still love her, but because he went through hell the first time he lost her and doesn’t want to experience that feeling again. He also doesn’t want to go back to having no control over his emotions.  The thought terrifies him.

I find their whole situation so sad. They both care deeply for each other, but he is so paralyzed by his fear that he won’t even communicate with the girl anymore. Think of what they are both missing out on … perhaps the greatest joy either one of them has ever known.

My problem is public speaking. The thought of getting up in front of people and speaking brings back fresh memories of 7th-grade speech class, when my voice shook so uncontrollably that everyone watching me was embarrassed for me. They were probably just as uncomfortable watching me as I was standing up there in front of them. My fear of public speaking is unfortunate, especially because I’m fairly certain my future dream job will require me to have this skill. I’ve spent my whole life avoiding it, but it’s time to stop running. It’s time to turn around and face this thing once and for all.

I’ve gone back to grad school after 30 years. I absolutely love it! The problem is, I have to do a YouTube interview with a classmate where we each take turns pretending to be a journalist and a PR professional discussing a crisis situation. Doesn’t sound too bad, unless you have an extreme aversion to being on camera. My first thought was, “I’ve got to drop this class.” I immediately rejected that idea because, as I said, I love the class.  My second thought was, “I’m going to contact the professor and tell her I’ll take an F on this assignment.” Unfortunately, that idea seems pretty stupid even to me. I finally came to the conclusion that as much as I hate the thought of actually doing this assignment, I want to get past the brick wall my fear has succeeded in putting in front of me for so many years.  It’s time to break through that wall. I may not like the process, and it may hurt; but I am doing this thing.  It’s time.

How about you? Is fear holding you back from something you want more than anything? What are you going to do about it? I would encourage you to not let it define you. Get help. Move past your fear. Your greatest accomplishment/love relationship/purpose may be on the other side. Don’t miss out! As Joyce Meyer says a friend of hers once said to her, “Why don’t you do it afraid?”

You’ve got this. Get going! 🙂
Lori Lynn

Dear LORD … when we are too afraid to follow through on your best for us, give us a nudge. Help us to visualize what is there on the other side of our fear and to want it so badly that we’re willing to do whatever it takes to make it a reality. Give us the courage to knock down our brick walls of fear knowing that You are there with us every step of the way. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

 

 

 

When God Doesn’t Make Sense


This post was originally published in 2012.  However, since our Lenten service last night focused on Abraham sacrificing his son and the corresponding sacrificial Lamb of God in the New Testament, I thought it was appropriate to post it again…

Blessings to you this Lenten season,
Lori Lynn

After all this, God tested Abraham.  God said, “Abraham!”

“Yes?” answered Abraham.  “I’m listening.”

He said, “Take your dear son Isaac whom you love and go to the land of Moriah.  Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains that I’ll point out to you.”  –Genesis 22:1-2 (The Message)

Don’t you wonder sometimes what went through Abraham’s mind from the moment he first heard God make this command until the time he followed through in obedience?  We read it and think, “Abraham knew God.  He was a giant of the faith.  He didn’t struggle.  He just did what God told him to do.”  But as I ponder this passage and think of the incredibly difficult decision I am faced with in my life right now, I can’t help but wonder, “What really happened in that white space between the end of verse 2 and the beginning of verse 3?”  It’s the instructions written in invisible ink in that white space I could use right about now.  The ones that tell me how to get from  point A (listening) to point B (obedience).

I have found over the past few years (more than a few actually), that I have become quite adept at second guessing what I think God may be telling me.  I can believe I hear very clearly God telling me one thing; but over the course of a few days, I have completely tied myself in knots wondering if I heard right.  And then begins the tug of war… “Did God really tell me that, or is that the devil trying to trip me up?  I am certain God told me that, but it just doesn’t make any sense.  I could see how God could use that (and work good from it), but it doesn’t seem like it goes according to what I know from His Word.  No, that CAN’T be God.”  Then I find myself right back at the starting point, continuing to stay stuck in a rut of indecision, paralyzed by insecurity and doubt.

Isn’t it interesting how God gave Abraham three days to think about things after he decided to obey God.  Three long days to travel to Moriah.  Three excruciating days to torment himself with thoughts of what God was telling him to do.  Unlike Peter, who took his eyes off Jesus and began to quickly sink amidst the crashing waves on the Sea of Galilee, Abraham continued steadfast on the path God was calling him to follow.  He did not waiver in his obedience.  He remained calm amidst the storm of his emotions.  He kept his [spiritual] eyes on God and kept his [spiritual] ears tuned to the radio frequency of God’s voice.  If we did the same, how much different would our lives be?

I often think of the analogy of the clenched fist.  If we are desperately holding onto something we can’t bear to part with, how can we expect God to bless us with anything?  Our hand will be too tightly clenched to receive the blessing.  In order to receive something, we have to let go… either by holding out our hands, open, with palms up, or by reaching out with an open hand to grasp onto the hand of God and go with Him to the place He can’t wait to show us.  Then, and only then, can God give us something that we may find is a much greater joy than we could ever have imagined.

I’m going to challenge you in something.  Over the next month, pay close attention to what God is telling you.  Listen to the message He puts deep within your heart.  Pray about it, asking God to reveal His truth regarding the particulars of whatever it is He is telling you.  Now here’s the kicker… FOLLOW THROUGH on what He is telling you.  I’d love to hear how He has blessed you through your obedience.

Walking in faith,

Lori Lynn

Dear LORD… just as You blessed Abraham through his acts of obedience, we pray that You would bless us.  May we be willing to unclench our fists and let go of those things that are hindering us from receiving the best that You want to give us.  Through this letting-go process, we pray that You would use our obedience to bless others as well; and through it all, may You be glorified.  In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen.

 

She Used To Be Mine


My friend, Gina, sent me the link to Sara Bareilles’ song below.  It is such a beautiful representation of (and expresses better than I ever could myself) the feelings I’ve battled for so long … the sense of being broken, lonely most of the time, not recognizing who I’ve become, longing (in part) for who I used to be, and the desire to give it all back for a chance to start over and rewrite the ending for the girl I used to be.

Life is messy, isn’t it.  It doesn’t always (in fact, rarely does) go the way we’d hoped.  The good news is, there is always something to be learned along the way; and where you are now doesn’t mean that’s where you have to stay.

Past is a LessonI had such awesome plans and high hopes when I graduated from high school.  I intended to join the Foreign Service, travel the world, and become a foreign diplomat.  My life now in no way resembles that previously imagined life, but I’ve learned a lot along the way.

For starters, I’ve learned that it’s not always WHAT you know so much as WHO you know.  It’s not so much a matter of how many”book smarts” you have as it is how well have you developed your people skills?  (I know some people who are incredibly intelligent but do not have an ounce of common sense or know the first thing about getting along with others.)  I’ve learned that life isn’t about acquiring things or making more money; it’s about making a difference in the lives of those around you.  It’s about contributing to society and making the world a better place.

God has given me a chance to go back and rewrite my ending for the young girl I used to be.  I hope I’ve learned enough along the way to make better choices from this point going forward, and  I hope He continues to bring people into my life who will challenge me to grow in ways I never thought possible.

19157-Move-ForwardYes, life can be hard at times and not go at all the way we had initially planned; but it can be a wonderful life if we take the focus off of our circumstances and past mistakes and put it instead on reigniting the fire that used to burn in our hearts when hopes and dreams and wishes and moonbeams shined in our eyes for all to see.  There’s a beautiful life filled with possibilities out there waiting for you.  Go capture it!  I’ll be cheering for you …

Lori Lynn

Dancing In His Arms …


I am not a good dancer; so when I knew I’d have to dance at my wedding, I was extremely nervous.  I have no recollection of dancing with my husband, but I do distinctly remember dancing with two of my uncles.  (My grandmother loved to dance, and it was she who taught my uncles how to dance.  She would put on waltz music and teach her boys smooth moves in the kitchen after the evening meal.)  When I was dancing with them, I didn’t need to worry about my inability; they wrapped me firmly in their arms, guided me across the dance floor, and allowed me to relax and enjoy myself.  It was a pleasure (and an honor) dancing with each of them.

Today, two of the devotions I read pertained to dancing and singing and praising God. One of them encouraged me to put on my dancing shoes, allow the LORD to play a song for my soul, and feel myself move to the beat of His heart.*  I imagined myself in the arms of God, feeling the same sense of security I felt in my uncles’ arms while dancing at my wedding … safe, warm, and loved.  The second devotion confirmed that feeling:

As you relax in My everlasting arms, sense how safe and secure you are.**

Jack Vettriano

Jack Vettriano

My quiet time with the LORD got me thinking … I want to spend more time dancing.  I want to spend more time wrapped in the everlasting arms of my heavenly Father, forgetting my inabilities (my insecurities, whatever I lack), relaxing in His strength, allowing Him to guide me along this dance floor of life.  I want to be in His will, hearing His song, moving to the beat of His heart.  I can’t think of a more comfortable place to be.

Start the music, Abba, and sweep me off my feet!

Lacing up my dancing shoes,
Lori Lynn

* Shepherd, S. R. (2008). Dance With Me, His Princess Bride: Love Letters from Your Prince, p. 19. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell.

** Young, S. (2009). WorshipJesus Lives, p. 14. Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

Life Lesson #8: This Too Shall Pass


THIS TOO, SHALL PASS

When things are bad, remember:

It won’t always be this way.

Take one day at a time.

When things are good, remember:

It won’t always be this way.

Enjoy every great moment.

— Doe Zantamata

When I began my first real job as an adult, my boss would frequently say, “This, too, shall pass.”  It became one of my favorite reminders when things got stressful.  Over the years, it has served me well.

After twenty-plus years of chronic stressful situations, I have learned it is very true that everything really does eventually pass.  While our lives may not ever be the same afterwards (sometimes they are better!), there is always a nugget of gold to be mined from each event.

What can I learn from this experience?

Sometimes we get so caught up in the busyness of life that we need a catastrophic event of sorts to sort of “knock us in the head”. We are brought up short, caught off guard, and sent reeling with the impact. At the time, it is painful. It feels as if life as we know it is over. We wonder, “How am I ever going to survive this?” Other times, the “event” was immensely pleasurable, making our hearts soar with love and joy. We can’t believe this has happened. We can’t believe we’ve been so lucky. (Remember the butterflies associated with spending your first “date” with the man of your dreams or hearing that you received the promotion you’ve been hoping for forever?) Whatever the experience, there is always something to learn.

What can I be grateful for in this moment?

With catastrophic events, it isn’t always easy to be grateful initially. The grief and disbelief keep us pretty focused on the hardships ahead. Once the initial shock wears off, however, we may be able to broaden our thinking.

A few years ago, one of my daughter’s was having health issues. I received a call at work from her doctor saying they wanted to do further testing … that she might not ever have children … that she might have a “syndrome”. My initial feeling was that the room was spinning. My heart sank, my mind starting thinking worse-case scenarios (She’ll never have kids? Is it my fault?), and I was heartbroken (for both her and me). Shortly thereafter, however, the following thoughts broke through my devastation: Wait a minute. This doctor doesn’t know anything at this point. She is just speculating. God is in control here. He has held my daughter in the palm of His hand since the day she was born. I am trusting HIM. Just because she may never experience pregnancy herself doesn’t mean she will never be a mother.

As the days passed, and my daughter had the recommended testing, it turned out the syndrome the doctor suspected was a false alarm, and there is nothing to suggest she will have difficulty with pregnancy. The doctor made a poor judgment call in alarming us before the fact.

In the interim, during the unbearable waiting, I prayed; and I contacted some of my best prayer warriors to ask them to pray. Prayer is a powerful thing. Until you’ve tried it and experienced it for yourself, you may not realize that. (On a side note, if you have not yet seen the movie War Room by the Kendrick Brothers, please go see it. It is such a wonderful movie!)

What is really important to me and do I need to make some adjustments?

My father always taught our family that everything happens for a reason. Sometimes catastrophic events are allowed in our lives to make us reassess our lives and figure out what is really important. After some serious soul searching, I discovered that in the big huge scheme of things, whether or not my daughter could have children one day really isn’t a “big” thing. It’s more important to me that she is happy, that her overall health is good, and she finds meaning and purpose in her life.

When my son was six years old, he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. We were told the news the same day that the doctor suspected my youngest daughter might have TB. It was not a good day. My son was crying that he didn’t want to go to the hospital; my daughter was crying because she felt crummy from pneumonia (turns out she did not have the TB the x-ray alluded to). For a while that day, life as we knew it, stopped. For the next week, my husband and I lived at the hospital with our son while I learned how to care for his needs in a whole different way. (My husband has Type 1 diabetes as well, so he and my son were fine to come home sooner; but it was important that I know how to care for him, so they had us stay longer.) While my son adjusted to four insulin injections a day and at least as many finger pokes, I adjusted to giving the injections and learning how to monitor food portions and carb/protein/fat ratios. Life was never the same … not bad, just different and with more responsibility.

There were days that followed where I felt sorry for myself and our family; but the beauty of spending time at Children’s Hospital-Boston was that all around us were parents and children who, while tiptoeing through landmines of cancer and debilitating diseases, were making their way through it with smiles and grace. It put a whole new perspective on things. I didn’t have to contend with wheelchairs and IVs and ports, lengthy hospital stays, or the prospect of death; I simply had to make some minor adjustments. I’ve found that everything in life is all a matter of perspective.

In every experience we encounter in life, there is always something to learn. We learn how to think differently, how to put things into proper perspective, how to be grateful, and how to become resilient. We learn what is really important, and we discover what we are made of. We learn what is worth fighting for and what we need to let go of. We learn that life is worth living and people are worth loving. We learn that we can’t do it alone.

We still have bad days at our house, when life gets overwhelming and the responsibilities weigh us down, but amidst it all, we remember … THIS, TOO, SHALL PASS.

Walking in gratefulness …

Lori Lynn

Life Lesson #7: Don’t Quit


Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny. — C. S. Lewis

I know so many people who are struggling … people close to my heart and some not so close.  I’ve noticed, from my own experience, that what exacerbates the problem is looking around at others and thinking, “Why me?”

I’m not sure when I adopted the notion that life is supposed to be problem free, but it obviously crept into my psyche somewhere along the line.  Maybe it’s from all of the books I lost myself in when I was growing up, or perhaps it’s the movies I escape into when I want to remove myself from the cold, hard realities of life.  Somehow in the process my mind skipped over the hardships and only remembered the happy endings.

I know what it’s like to feel hopeless, frustrated, all alone.  I know what it’s like to feel that no one cares, that no one understands.  It’s hard to get out of the rut.  It’s hard to think differently when everything you know is screaming, “Failure!”  It’s hard to get past the voices of Doom and Gloom whispering in your ears.  Spending time with Harry Potter or Frodo relieves my momentary fear and paralysis and makes me think that I, too, can overcome my current struggle.

I recently sent the daughter of a dear friend of mine a poem called “Don’t Quit”.  You can find it here.  I decided it might be a good thing to send my own children, who are facing some tough realities of their own (aka how to afford college when they can’t take out student loans without a parent’s cosignature).

Here’s the thing, though… I’ve learned throughout all of this that there is one thing you can bank on.  Satan desires nothing more than to drag us down, to lose our focus, to make us feel intimidated/inferior/not good enough.  Drown his voice out.  He is full of smoke and hot air!

Don’t waste your energy looking at the people around you.  They are not running YOUR race.  YOU are.  They have their own obstacles to overcome.  Focus on your race.  Stay grounded.  Other people don’t matter in the big huge scheme of things.  What matters is you and God … that’s it.  His plans for your life.  The purpose He created you for.

Keep the faith…

Lori Lynn

Father … when life gets just too darn hard to bear, help us to remember that struggle is preparation for something down the road.  It is strengthening us and building our spiritual muscle.  You have a plan for each of us.  We may not see it fully; but if we continue to trust in You, it will eventually become known, sometimes in the most surprising way.  Keep us strong.  In Jesus’ Name.  Amen.

Life Lesson #6: When Life Gives You A Do-Over, Take It!


“Hard is trying to rebuild yourself, piece by piece, with no instruction book, and no clue as to where all the important bits are supposed to go.”  — Nick Hornby, A Long Way Down

“It’s humbling to start fresh. It takes a lot of courage. But it can be reinvigorating. You just have to put your ego on a shelf & tell it to be quiet.”  — Jennifer Ritchie Payette

“It’s never too late to be who you might have been.” – George Eliot

“We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us. The old skin has to be shed before the new one can come.” – Joseph Campbell

It has been a year of change.  No doubt about that.  Hopefully, the dust will now start to settle, and life will get a little more even-keeled.  A little over a year ago, my divorce was finalized.  In the divorce decree it was determined that my ex-husband and I would need to sell our home, and I would have to find a new place to live.  It’s interesting how we can become so attached to things … things that, over time, really don’t mean anything.

I was not looking forward to moving.  I liked my house.  I liked my neighborhood.  Mostly, I was not looking forward to going through the mounds of STUFF that my ex-husband and I had accumulated over our almost 22 years of marriage.  The thought of weeding through boxes of paperwork and unforgotten items buried in the corners of the garage exhausted me even before I began the onerous task.

When the offer came on the last day of February from a buyer who was adamant about moving in on April 1, I was not amused.  Whereas I was extremely grateful that we had an offer, I was in the middle of the busiest season of the year.  In addition to working full-time, I am a part-time organist at my church, and we were in the middle of Lent.  Not only did I have quite a few additional church services to play for, but I had also taken over as choir accompanist, since our other organist had been diagnosed with breast cancer a few days before Christmas.  Asking me to move out of a 3,500 square foot home in one month was like asking an accountant to move on April 14.  It was a highly stressful time.  To top it all off, the place I was moving to–a townhome under construction–was not going to be finished for another two months.  I was temporarily displaced and living out of a suitcase with my parents.

Two days after moving into my new townhome, I had to fly out East to attend my son’s high school graduation and move him back home to live with me.  While I was away, my two daughters had to fend for themselves attempting to find things that no one had a clue as to there whereabouts.  It took me weeks after I got back to even find my pots and pans so, needless to say, we ate out a lot.  Definitely not good for an already stretched budget.

We survived and are just now getting more fully settled in.  We’ve made room in the garage for at least one car!

As if that weren’t enough stress on my plate, I decided to apply for a different job … a lateral move within my company … but I thought, “What the heck … new year, new life, new townhome, why not a new job?  I’ll make it a complete do-over!”  So, in a few weeks, I am about to embark on a new adventure with the hope of learning some new skills that will make me more marketable.  I am hoping within the next year to go back to school for my Master’s.  I am hoping to reconnect with my creative and less-stressed self from my pre-marriage days.

God has graced me with a do-over on multiple levels.  I could have chosen to ignore the nudges He gave me.  I could have chosen to accept some and decline others, but some of the circumstances surrounding the changes were too obvious to miss.  My new job, for example … it was as if God was flashing a big neon sign in front of my face with a huge, flashing, boldly outlined arrow pointing, “Go here!”  (Pretty hard to miss nudges like that one.)

For someone who likes all of her ducks in a row before taking on new things, those of you who have read my earlier posts know that if there is one thing that God has taught me over the years, it’s that He won’t show me the next step on my path until I take the one He currently places in front of me.  Therefore, I have no idea where these new changes will take me, but I do know I am on the right path.  Until He shows me the next step, I’m going to enjoy where I am at.  I need not fret.  I need not worry.  I’m where I’m supposed to be at this moment in time, and God knows where the next stop on my journey is going to land me.

Embracing life (at the moment) …

Lori Lynn

Dear LORD … thank You for new beginnings.  Thank You for giving me glimpses into my past and future seeing how You so beautifully weave past experiences and future opportunities together into a seamless masterpiece.  Continue to point out Your plans for my life by presenting me with opportunities too obvious to miss. (Those flashing arrows sure are helpful!)  In Jesus’ Name I pray.  Amen.

 

 

 

Life Lesson #5: Communication is Key


“Assumptions are the termites of relationships.”  Henry Winkler

“Much unhappiness has come into the world because of bewilderment and things left unsaid.” Fyodor Dostoyevsky

You know how they say if you assume anything, it makes an “a**” of “u” and “me”.  Well, I can attest to that; and it all could have been avoided …

For the past year or so, I have been trying to reestablish a relationship with a dear friend whom I knew years ago and with whom I had lost contact. Things started out relatively well until I started searching for answers to questions my friend was not willing to answer. Instead of leaving things lie and allowing my friend to talk to me in his own time, I became pushy in my desperation to get answers I thought I needed. In the process, I wound up pushing my friend away, and he accused me of having no respect for other people’s boundaries. My mouth dropped to the floor in righteous indignation.  “What? ME?!? No concept of other people’s boundaries?” What in the world was he talking about. I have a history of letting people walk all over me. I have a history of letting people bleed me dry … people who take and don’t give much in return. I knew I had boundary issues when it came to establishing my own boundaries, but I was taken aback by the accusation that I have no respect for the boundaries of others.

At first, I was furious.  How dare he! How dare he accuse me of being presumptuous, judgmental, and righteous to boot.  Who did he think he was? Did he not realize he was being the very things he accused me of being? To top it all off, he accused me of having a hard time understanding other people and their issues (something I happen to be very good at, which those who know me well will attest to).

It would have been so easy to lash out, but I didn’t. I realized there was some truth in what he said. I hadn’t respected his boundaries in this particular instance. He had given me fair warning but had failed to explain himself in the process (kind of like someone yelling “STOP!” as you’re driving along about to collide with a train bearing down at full speed, but you’re too busy talking to notice). Nonetheless, I knew by his tone and by his choice of words that I had crossed the line. He was hurt and feeling attacked. Defense mechanisms kicked in, shields went up, and arrows began flying.

Instead of shooting arrows back, it was time for me to apologize. As badly as I wanted answers to my questions, it was not worth the price of losing an extremely important relationship with someone I dearly cared about. The apology came easy. I meant it. I was sincere. The agony of wondering if the relationship has been irreparably damaged … not so easy to bear.

Had my friend explained a little bit about all the things going on in his life, I wouldn’t have continued to pester him with questions he simply couldn’t deal with on top of everything else. Although I’m very good at understanding the undercurrents behind people’s behavior, I’m a terrible mind reader; so if you’re unwilling to share anything, I’m afraid I will fail miserably. In this case, I hurt my friend deeply and that, in turn, hurt me.

Communication is so extremely vital. When communication breaks down, I don’t know about you, but I do start to assume. My mind kicks into overdrive, and I begin imagining all sorts of scenarios. Satan has a heyday inside my head … feeding me lies that trigger my insecurity and make me start doubting and worrying and second-guessing. It takes concentrated effort to remind myself that just because someone isn’t willing to communicate with me doesn’t mean they don’t like me; it may just mean they have to process things themselves first or they may just have a lot their plate at the moment.

Take my friend, for example.  Over the past year, he:

  1. sold his house,
  2. moved,
  3. started a new job,
  4. had his company file Chapter 11 bankruptcy,
  5. had been dealing with an ill family member.

As my former brother-in-law told me upon hearing I had lost my first baby in utero, “How can people pray for you if they don’t know what’s going on?” How can people walk alongside you as you struggle through life if they don’t know you are struggling? How can people share in your joy if they don’t know you are rejoicing?

Bottom line: Talk to one another!

In this most recent experience with my friend, yes, I was way out of line. I barreled my way past my friend’s boundaries oblivious to the consequences. My need to know something made me blind to the fact that my friend couldn’t handle my questions right now. When he screamed “STOP”, I finally could see the train in my peripheral vision. Suddenly the answers I thought I so desperately needed aren’t that important. What’s more important is that my friend is hurting, and it all could have been avoided if:

  1. my friend had just conversed with me instead of remaining silent, and
  2. I had not jumped to conclusions and made my own assumptions.

I forgive my friend for lashing out at me (stress makes us do crazy things), and I hope he will forgive me in time. In the meantime, I will pray for him … that his stress level will diminish and that lines of communication will once again open up.

Two-way communication fixes so much.  It alleviates stress, corrects misunderstandings, avoids assumptions (and the consequences that go along with them), and fosters intimacy and warmth. It may not happen immediately, but keep at it. Don’t give up. A good relationship deserves the hard work of pressing through and keeping the lines of communication open.

Talk to me …

Lori Lynn

Father … You bring people into our lives for a reason. When we mess up those relationships, may we do all we can to break through the miscommunication and hurt feelings by talking to each other openly until the issue is resolved. Life is too short to be angry and upset. It ruins our health and causes sleepless nights. Grant us grace to be more loving. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.