Tag Archives: suffering


House-CleaningOn days like today, my mind wonders to places it should not go. All I have on my plate is household chores and despite my resistance, I’m being sucked into the vortex of cleaning. Comments from my past haunt me since my mother was a neat freak. Despite three active children in her house, you could eat off her floors any day of the week. There was never any mess, never anything waiting to be put away; never anything to be straightened – it was always spotless.

Every Friday was a deep cleaning day. For as long as I can remember, each of us was assigned certain chores to be accomplished that morning. Before my sister, brother and I could move on to our own activities, we had to get my mother to inspect and approve our work. And she did – with military precision. With my attitude of indifference towards housekeeping, my mom would inevitably find something lacking with my efforts.

“You missed a spot.”

“Did you even vacuum? I can’t see any evidence that you did.”

“Why can’t you wash dishes as well as your sister?”

You’d think I’d have learned, changed my attitude and worked to meet her exacting standards. But even to this day, my attitude is: there is always something more exciting to be doing than cleaning. I like the finished product, so I force myself to clean, but I will never reach my mom’s pinnacle of spotlessness.

And despite in some ways being proud of walking under that bar, on cleaning days, her comments return, only unfortunately now I own them.

“Why can’t you do more?”

“Can’t you do things a little better?

“Haven’t you learned how to be more disciplined?”

When I beat myself up like this, I stop to remind myself that only one opinion really matters. And that is God’s. When I view myself as a failure, as a lousy cleaner, as a terrible friend, I must recall that to label myself as anything other than the daughter of the King is limiting. I am stronger than the dust. I am stronger than my faults. With God, I am victorious.

That’s because there is no greater success in life than being a servant who brings joy to her Master. With God’s extravagant grace and unfailing love, I do that every day, even on cleaning days! And rest assured, you do, too!


Orange County has a new hero. Bruno, a German Shepherd police dog, was shot on Friday during a SWAT operation. The bullet struck him in the jaw and traveled into his chest. After a lengthy surgery where his jaw was rebuilt and part of his lung removed, he is expected to make full recovery. His bravery saved the lives of several police officers.Bruno

Not all acts of heroism need to save a life in order to be defined as brave or courageous. A modern day hero is a person who helps those in need.  A real hero gives selflessly of his time, money and energy for the good of others without asking for anything in return and, when offered, turns it down. There are many people, who in a variety of ways, come into our lives and softly, quietly improve them and in the process make us better people. They act without any acclaim or applause, but show compassion, generosity and kindness.

We think of heroes as doing something on a grand scale, but everyday heroes find a way to make this world a better place one person at a time. They don’t wait until they are perfect, they simply get on to doing amazing things. John Ortberg wrote, “If you wait until you are ready, you wait forever. God uses not-ready people.”

There are heroes in my life I’ve never met. Mother Teresa, Corrie ten Boom, Eleanor Roosevelt, Neil Armstrong. There are also larger than life heroes I have met: Colin Powell, Rick Stearns, Max Lucado, Patrick Lenconi. Today, though, I’d like to say thank you to those kind individuals who acted with compassion towards me in my times of need. The friends who showed up unexpectedly at my father’s wake, the teacher who let me cry in her arms after a breakup with a boyfriend, the coworker who gave me a spectacular reference, the gals in my writer’s group who have spent so much time making me a better communicator. There are way too many to list here, but without them I would be a sorry individual. You are my heroes! Thank you so much for all you did when I needed you most.

This, then is a call to action, not only for you, but for myself. When the opportunity comes to help someone, show someone a kindness, offer someone help, don’t hesitate. Just do it, as the motto states. You may never be heralded as a hero on television like Bruno was, but you will make every bit of a difference in someone’s life.

Mother Teresa famously said, “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” So, let’s get on with it! Make today a turning point. Seek out opportunities to spread love and kindness softly and quietly throughout your day. The world will be a much better place when you do.

Drooping Sails

The doldrums have recently hit me; prevailing winds have calmed my sails. My Aunt Marion passed away at the very end of July and her death, for many reasons, has hit me hard. She was gracious, elegant, a bundle of energetic love with an enthusiasm for life that was contagious. I feel listless, now mourning the loss of her positive, loving influence.Trail in Temperate Rainforest

One day, I wrote an email to a cousin from the opposite side of the family trying to explain my grief. She wrote back: At this stage in your life you realize all the magnificent plans you had to accomplish things in life have not happened and probably will not. On top of that you are sick of your daily “routines” – tired of the same foods, tired of your belongings, upset about getting older, aggravated with family and friends, and wondering what nasty ailment will befall you and lead to your demise. That’s enough to keep anyone from sleeping well and to give each of us a true feeling of the blahs (if not a serious case of depression). Alas the good news is you have a boat load of company.” (Just a quick side note here: If you are trying to cheer someone up, this is not the way to do it.)

But in a way I get what she was trying to say. On some days, life feels like an uphill battle and the climb becomes steeper and steeper as we go along.

Yet, if there is anything I’ve learned throughout my life, it’s that the best is yet to come. There are miracles ahead. And if that means the climb seems impossible for a while, I take heart in knowing I’m on the right path. Doesn’t it feel the same way with you? Do you look for miracles when life smacks you in the face?

Despite the days I want to stay in bed all day, giving up and giving in is not an option. It isn’t for me and it can’t be for you. I’ve learned we all have gifts that if unused dull our world. We all have a community of friends and supporters who are cheering us on, watching us climb that steep hill, defeating our giants and reaching that glorious new vista.

Even if you don’t realize it right now, you are loved. God values your life so much, He sent His Son to give you life. Your heart and your life are exquisitely beautiful. Your soul was designed for His delight. No matter what you are in the midst of, whichever doldrums have taken the wind out of your sails, you can rest assured that every component of your life is tucked inside His care.

Whatever gift God has given you is priceless and His love is so much stronger than whatever you are facing. He continually wraps you in His protection, so you can use your gifts to give Him the glory.

Even on the days when I struggle to see any good in the future; when giving up would be so easy, He gently whispers to me, “Keep going. The best is yet to come.” His words empower my passions. And today, I want to convey the same to you maybe because right now they are the words I most need to hear.

Keep going! Keep fighting to ascend the thorny pathway you are facing. God is a God of love. He loves you enough to have blessed you with more gifts and abilities than you could ever think possible. Hold on tight to Him and keep going. Climb for His glory. Climb to see what miracle the next steps hold. Climb for all those cheering you on who are waiting to see what God will do through you.

You can make it! You will make it! The best is yet to come! Just keep going!