Let me be upset.

Uncategorized Oct 09, 2019

Following up with my doctor, I was trying to explain my month or so sojourn through an unnamed virus and two bouts of pneumonia. "I wasn't surprised when I got sick,"  I said. "The day before it started I'd put my 14 year old dog down." 

And it was the truth. I'd been stressed for weeks, trying to honor my promise to her not to keep her here too long but not being able to let go of a dog who greeted me with a smile every morning. Grief can hit us, body and soul, like a sledgehammer so I was completely unsurprised to wake up the next morning with a fever and sore throat.

"Yes," he said in response. "We tell ourselves not to be too upset about such things but we just can't help it."

I tell you God's honest truth: I had to fight with all the self control I posses not to go all Julia Sugerbaker on him.  In no way did I expect myself not to be upset, nor did I want to have a stiff upper lip. During a visit last Christmas my sister-in-law innocently inquired about...

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"I learned to look at the pain, rather than hide from it. When I refused to look at it honestly, it grew like a shadow in a childhood bedroom. My pain seemed to sense fear; fear was the fuel it burned in order to run through me. To disarm it, to look at the pain honestly. took time. I had to learn to inhabit my body. It's a difficult thing to sit with pain and just be. To sit beside it, acknowledge it and be whole in its presence. to experience pain in that way, I had to constantly remind myself that it wasn't me. It was just a sensation.  I was bigger than the pain and I could withstand it, it wouldn't kill me. I would survive it." Dr. Rana Awdish, In Shock

I've been reading this exceptional book, In Shock. An ICU doctor,  Awdish was pregnant when things went horribly wrong. It's telling that I'm about halfway through the book. Awdish has been through critical illness, has been actively dying and now, after a very long journey, has returned to work. She still...

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Carbs vs Fat vs Reslience

I recently listened to an episode of the "Outside" podcast (from Outside magazine) that took on the "Keto conundrum." If you're not familiar with it, the Keto diet (which many people swear by) is a very low carb, high fat diet. Athletes have long relied on carbs to fuel workouts and races, and studies have shown no benefit to a Keto diet for athletes. And yet, some athletes insisted that it was magic for them.

Canadian Race walker (don't snicker - he can complete a walking marathon faster than recreational runner can run it) Evan Dunfree participated in a study designed to address the question.  He was put into a group of endurance athletes who were put on a strictly monitored Keto diet. The only carbs allowed were the equivalent of a couple of bananas a day. 

He said that the training was brutal. Everything was just so hard. Some of the athlete in the Keto group struggled with depression as they made the switch. 

After a certain number of weeks he was...

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When an old dog stumbles

Uncategorized Jul 12, 2019

As some of you know, I have an old dog named Oakley. She's pushing 90 in human years. When she was diagnosed with leukemia the vet said that with chemo, she could last another one and a half to two years.

That was one year, ten months ago. We're doing palliative care in bonus time now.

I had moment the other week when I thought we might be at that point, the point of the final goodbye. When she got up to greet me in the morning she could hardly move her old bones around and it broke my heart to see her. But the next morning she greeted me with a smile and begged to go on her walk.

Not yet. It's not yet time. Tweaking her treatment has made her almost frisky again.

So the other morning we were doing our slow stroll along the neighborhood streets. Out of the blue she stumbled and sat down in the grass next to the curb.

She does that sometimes now, when her weakened legs give out. She struggled unsuccessfully to get up. I patted her head and quietly told her that it was okay, she could...

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Pentecost: When Things Get Messy

As I write this, it's Pentecost Sunday. 

For what it's worth, Google search defines it as "the Christian festival celebrating the descent of the Holy Spirit on the disciples of Jesus after his Ascension, held on the seventh Sunday after Easter."

I think a better definition is that it's when things got messy. 

Not that following Jesus wasn't messy. He had a way of not staying in his own lane, talking to the people he shouldn't, healing when he shouldn't and saying things that either made no sense at all or made way too much sense to be comfortable.

Pentecost pulls us all into the mess.

When there's one right way to think about God, to speak about God or to worship God, well then, we can control that. We have standards.

When there's one right group of people to testify about God, well then, we can control that as well. If you don't meet the qualifications you'll be silenced.

Then comes Pentecost, and this messy Spirit of God that spills out all over everywhere. It's so out...

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Up a Tree

(Note: Every Monday morning  I send out the Monday Morning Manna  email. Today's blog post is the email that went out this morning. If you'd like to learn more or sign up to receive it for yourself, check it out.)
As a kid, my first goal of the summer was toughening my feet enough to be able to walk barefoot on the needle covered ground. The back secction of our yard was covered in pine trees, and I spent hours playing among them, happily barefoot in the summer. I used skinny, downed trees to build forts and lean-tos and anything else my imagination created. The most special tree, however, wasn’t a pine tree at all.
In the back corner of the lot was a grand old cedar tree, its trunk too big for my arms to encircle, worn mostly smooth with time. The first branch was long, and oblong shaped, flowing straight out from the tree. By putting both arms over it, I could walk up the trunk and scramble onto the branch, relaxing with my back against the sweet...
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Don't Make Blueberries Lie

Uncategorized May 22, 2019

There they were, all propped up on their own little stand in the produce section, white plastic baskets filled with blueberries. Why, they looked as if they'd just come out of the field. Verily, the sign proclaimed LOCAL BLUEBERRIES.

Down at the bottom, at the very bottom of the sign was the truth: Fargo, GA. 

I'm thinking that was there not as a suggestion for a keen place to visit, but as a record of where these pretty little berries were from.

The only problem is that we were in Clemmons, NC, almost 500 miles from Fargo, GA. It would take me almost 8 hours to drive down there to pick them for myself. I don't know what local means to this produce manager, but to quote The Princess Bride, I don't think this word means what you think it means.

They made the blueberries lie to me.

I don't like being lied to. I don't like being told that these shoes are the only ones left in town when I just saw exactly the same pair in another store. I don't like being told that my call is...

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When Mother's Day is Just A Day

 It's an odd feeling, really.

The day used to take up so much space in my life. There were plans to be made and coordinated. When my brother lived nearby he and his wife hosted both sets of parents for events like Mother's Day so I focused on bringing my part of the lunch.

And, of course finding the right gift and card.  

After my brother and sister-in-law moved out of state, the hosting duties became mine. I enjoyed planning the lunch. Cleaning the house to Geraldine standards? Not so much.

Odd that a day that took up so much space in my life is now just a day.

Maybe you know the feeling. Maybe your mom has died, or maybe dementia has steadily slipped her away from the life you shared together. And Sunday will be oddly empty.

For other women there's more pain than emptiness. It's the first year without your mom. Or the first year since the terrible reality became real to you, and you know that you will never have a son or daughter making macaroni jewelry (is that still a...

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Wasting Your Time Looking For Closure

closure grief healing loss May 03, 2019

The article title on Facebook caught my eye:

When Closure Eludes You

You knew I was going to have to say something, didn't you. And you were right.

Over and over again I get asked about closure. How long before I reach it? When will I know that I have it?

Here's the truth, folks. There is no such thing.

Closure implies that we can tie things up with a neat bow (finally.) The case is closed. We pack up the notes into the file box and store it in the closet. Only it doesn't happen that way.

We never reach closure when we lose someone in our lives whom we loved, whether it was the child whom we carried but never held or the loved one whose hand we would gladly hold forever. But that doesn't mean that we don't heal.

Our lives will never be as they were had we not had this loss. As a hospital chaplain I often talk with patients in their seventies and eighties. It's striking to me how often the conversation is about their parents. They want to tell me about who they were and how they...

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When People Aren't Exceptions

It seemed innocuous enough.

It was one of those internet articles shared in a Facebook group I’m in. The article focused on emotional changes that happen in your life when your parents are gone. Having buried both of my parents, I was interested in what the author had to say.

Some of it was just plain malarkey, like “You no longer feel like your accomplishments matter.” Yes, I miss being able to share accomplishments with my parents, especially my dad who was easily impressed.

 (As my mom declined I started taking meals to them more often. One night I brought roast beef and potatoes that I’d cooked in the Crockpot. My father said it was delicious and asked where I’d gotten it. I told him that I’d made it. “You know how to do that?” he asked, his voice full of wonder that I could accomplish such a thing.)

Even without my parents, though, I’m proud of what I do. I have friends and other family members with whom I celebrate. My...

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