Thursday, April 9, 2020

Holding Out For A Hero

Remember that song? I guess everybody knows it now thanks to Shrek, but who remembers the original sung by Bonnie Tyler? The video released with it was very dramatic, which fit with the 1980's and the early days of sitting around watching music videos with your friends. Then music video stations morphed into less than stellar reality TV programming and now everyone just watches youtube on their phones.

Let's hop off the rabbit trail and focus on today's letter.

Day 8-H is for Hero

My thirteen year old nephew picked this one. It's a good word, and one we're hearing often these days in reference to healthcare workers on the front line, classroom teachers who, without missing a beat, rapidly shifted gears, and company CEO's who've turned their factories and businesses into something completely new and different in an effort to provide what's needed in the immediate.

Earlier this year we cheered the bravery of firefighters around the world, and of course our men and women in uniform are often called upon to perform small and large acts of heroism in service to our country.

I'm someone who likes words, who think words matter. When a word is used too casually, it loses some of it's power. The same can be said of words that are over used to the point they become watery and then when we really need the word, when it truly fits as a descriptor of a person or situation, it doesn't get the attention it deserves. We don't sit up and take notice the way we should because we've become numb to it. I have a list of words I think fall into this category but for now let's stick with hero.

I've seen people called heroic for speaking their mind. Is that heroic? In some cases it might be brave, but heroic? Are bravery and heroism the same thing? Maybe if you're preparing to die for your beliefs, but is speaking out from behind a computer screen on a social media site in the same category as true heroism? I would say no.

I think we often use the word hero when what we really mean is role model or mentor, maybe even just a good example for others to follow. Real heroes are all of those things, but I don't think the reverse is neccessarily true. You can be a good example and role model without being heroic.

So who are the heroes?

I think true heroes behave in a sacrificial manner, with no thought given to the fame or notoriety that may come their way as a result of their actions. Their actions change the world, or at least change the situation at hand from something dangerous-life threatening-potentially disasterous to something better.

I read about a survey conducted a couple of years ago among British children ages 6-13 asking them who are their heroes. Guess who took the top spot?


Well Mum because because it was a British survey , but either way that answer made me happy.

If we think about what good mothers do day in and day out the word fits. Mothers put themselves last. They aren't seeking fame for their accomplishments and in fact they've often set aside their own dreams and aspirations to ensure their children grow up reaching for the stars.

Mothers can change a child's world or at least how the child sees the world and his place in it. A gentle hug, wisdom bestowed, a quiet act of kindness. With the routine sameness of always being there doing all those little things that in hindsight turn out to be not so little.

I think right now the medical people suiting up daily and marching into hospital rooms where people are sick and dying, with many unknowns still out there, is heroic. On a different scale but perhaps no less important, moms keeping in check the mental, physical, and emotional health of the humans in their care during this season of change and uncertainty might also be worthy of the word.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Hey Hodgepodge Peeps!

Welcome to the Wednesday Hodgepodge! I hope everyone is staying well and coping with this strange season we're experiencing together apart. If you're looking for my A-Z post on today's letter (G) you'll find it by clicking the link here.

Everyone is invited to join the Hodgepodge. Answer the questions on your own blog, then hop back here and add your link at the bottom of my post. Don't forget to copy the button code on my sidebar and include it somewhere in your post so your readers can join the party too. And go say hi to whoever linked before you because that's what good neighbors do.

Here we go-

1. How will you celebrate Easter this year?

Well. Hmmm. It will be different in terms of no big family dinner on the fancy china in the dining room. No Easter baskets on the kitchen table first thing in the morning.  No family sitting side by each on a church pew singing my favorite '...up from the grave He arose, with a  mighty triumph o'er His foes...' but...

Easter, 1996

BUT! It's Easter! Whether any of the above happens or not Easter morning still dawns, bringing with it all the hope our hearts can hold.

 Hubs and I will have our coffee at the kitchen table, logged in to a Zoom call with our Sunday School class. We'll have a nice meal at some point although I'm not sure yet exactly what we'll be eating. We'll count our blessings and be thankful for the gift of this new day, the significance of Easter, and the grace, hope, and peace offered to each one of us through the death and resurrection of God's only Son. 

2. Is it easier for you to receive grace offered or extend grace to another? Explain.

My answer would probably vary depending on the circumstances. If we're talking about the human state of being thoughtful and considerate I find that fairly easy. It is a little harder for me to be gracious when I feel like the offender should know better, but I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt and remind myself everyone has something they're dealing with.  

I'm grateful every day for God's grace. I'm sure He thinks quite often I should know better too. 

3. Do you say grace before meals? If so do you have a standard dinnertime grace or is it more 'off the cuff' ? Do you say grace when dining out? Do you have a favorite grace? Any special memory associated with 'saying grace'?

We always say grace before dinner at home, and we always hold hands when we pray. We have never made it a practice to say grace when we're in a restaurant, but where we live now it's common to see people praying while dining out. I'm okay with it if I'm in a group that wants to say a blessing before we eat in a restaurant. 

We don't have a standard/rote grace we say...ours is definitely off the cuff, or perhaps from the heart would be more accurate. 

As far as memories go one thing that springs to mind is summers spent at camp. Everyone filing in to the dining hall, counselors at the end of the table with their campers on either side...the 'chief' in charge would have us all sing, for lack of a better term, 'a dining room song' before we said grace. These songs were short choruses focused on gratitude and I still love singing them today...'Come and dine the master calleth come and may feast at Jesus table any time...He who fed the multitude, turned the water into wine, to the hungry calleth now come and dine.'

And then there's my grandson. The mancub. He is fascinated by the concept of saying grace, and holds out his hands for the people beside him to grab. Then we bow our heads, except he peeks and his eyes sparkle and he grins as he looks around the table at everyone gathered there. Completely precious. 

I might peek too.  

4. What are some challenges you think the next generation will face? (Generation Alpha-born between 2011 and 2025)

I think they're going to be smart, perhaps the brightest generation yet. Completely comfortable with all sorts of technology that doesn't even exist in 2020. Connected in all sorts of ways, but hopefully still occasionally in person. Will we ever lose our need for face-to-face conversations? I hope not. 

I imagine Generation Alpha will face the usual challenges though, challenges every generation has to get along with your fellow man and those living in your own home, how to spend/use their time-money-talents, how to make the world a better place...

Time and technology move forward with alarming speed, but we humans are still human. 

5. Share a favorite quote or lyric featuring the word faith.

'Faith sees the invisible, believes the unbelievable, and receives the impossible' 
Corrie Ten Boom

6.  Insert your own random thought here.

These are my peeps. 

The originals. 

Easter memories from my childhood are all wrapped up with these kids. New dresses...white gloves...chocolate bunnies in wicker baskets...a photo after church...a baked ham dinner eaten on the good china, and enough love to make the world go round...

Wishing you all a joyous Easter Day! 

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Two For The Price Of One

I've gone back and forth about how best to handle these next two letters. Somehow my blog has gone from almost no content to a flood of posting, which is a good thing but does require a bit of managing.

Some weeks I may combine my Wednesday letter with the Wednesday Hodgepodge, but mostly I think I want to keep them as separate entries, which means two posts on Tuesdays and two posts on Wednesdays. That's a lot for me, even with all this 'free time'.

You probably don't need to know all this, but writing it down helps me see what makes the most sense. This week I think what makes the most sense is writing a single post combining the letters F and G (you'll find this week's Hodgepodge questions in the post before this one).

I gave those letters to my sister and brother-in-law and they sent me their words separately, but were definitely thinking alike. In my mind these two words go hand in hand so I'm going to put them in a single post. Plus it's Easter week which also relates so you're getting a bargain here today.

Day 6-F is for Faith
Day 7-G is for Grace 

I'm just going to put this out there. Most of my posts are not that deep. Ha! Just keepin' it real. They are meaty in their own way, and I do like to make people think, but they're not deep in the way some writers are deep. My blog is more of a 'hey I feel the same way' kind of blog and I'm okay with that. More than okay because those are the kinds of blog posts I like to read too. 

But then there are words that don't feel light. Or don't feel like they should be written about lightly, and faith and grace are two such words. 

I don't classify myself as a Christian writer although I am a Christian and I do write. But I'm not the person who is going to delve into scripture on my blog and tell you what it means, or dissect difficult passages of the Bible, etc. What I like to write, and what I think people relate to here, is when I tell my own story. Share my own experiences in the everyday ordinary of life. 

Faith and grace are part of my story. 

Honestly in the crazy-mixed up-confusing world we're all living in today it's faith in the God who laid the foundations of the earth that keeps me grounded and hopeful. I'm fortunate to have grown up in a home where my parents taught me at at early age to 'cast my cares on Him'. To treat others the way I would like to be treated myself. 

To accept grace that's been freely given and extend grace freely in return. 

Grace is love shown to the un-lovely. The undeserving. The short tempered, the rude, the mean-spirited people we encounter online and less than six feet away from us in a store queue. 

Less judgement more grace because everybody has a story. 

When the world is topsy turvy (and can we all agree that's the case right now?) when the ground shifts daily and the waves crash round we reach for an anchor. 

Faith is my anchor. 

Grace is the hand lifting me up saying come stand here. 
The ground is solid and there's no need to fear.

Easter is where faith and grace collide. Intersect. Are woven together for eternity. 
Easter is what makes it real and true and ours. 

Hodgepodge Questions-Volume 363

Here are the questions to this week's Wednesday Hodgepodge. Answer on your own blog, then hop back here tomorrow to share answers with all your friends and neighbors. From a safe distance of course!

1. How will you celebrate Easter this year?

2. Is it easier for you to receive grace offered or extend grace to another? Explain.

3. Do you say grace before meals? If so do you have a standard dinnertime grace or is it more 'off the cuff' ? Do you say grace when dining out? Do you have a favorite grace? Any special memory associated with 'saying grace'?

4. What are some challenges you think the next generation will face? (Generation Alpha-born between 2011 and 2025)

5. Share a favorite quote or lyric featuring the word faith.

6.  Insert your own random thought here.

Monday, April 6, 2020

Be An En-, Not A Dis-

Entering Week 2 in the April A to Z Blog Challenge and we're moving right along. 100 meaningless bonus points to anyone who gets this title. Perhaps if you read on...

I'm trying not to make every post in this thirty day challenge relate back to the virus, but a fair chunk of the words I was given do send my brain in that direction. For now, our everyday life is impacted by restrictions to our actions and our interactions, which makes it hard to avoid referencing every once in a a while.

These are strange times and my blog is a journal of sorts, so while I'm not intentionally dedicating these challenge posts to the current public health crisis, it will very likely get more than a mention now and then.

Day 5-E is for Encourage

Okay, on with the show. Today's word is brought to you courtesy of my mother-in-law, encourager extraordinaire. Everybody needs one in their life and she has the gift of encourgement. She is always telling you you're appreciated...loved...better than you think you are, and for that I'm grateful.

I'm realizing that while I didn't start out with the idea of giving a shout out to the person in my life who provided the day's word, it is turning out that way. As I write each post I think of the sender and our shared history with so much affection. An unexpected happy little bonus to my theme this year.

Before I start one of these alphabet posts I always like to look up the definition of the word, along with any synonyms or antonyms. Synonyms for this one include hearten, cheer, uplift, inspire, motivate. In this present age of social distancing where do you find encouragement?

When I stop and think about it I realize I'm finding encouragement in all the places I normally find it-

From family who call-text-zoom to say I love you and you matter to me.
They bring joy to my heart.

From the kindness of strangers on display all around the globe.
Inspiring me to be kind too.

From people in all sorts of professions figuring out new and creative ways of moving forward.
Motivating me to be flexible and to keep trying new things.

From friends who make me laugh when we hang out 'together' albeit online.
Bringing cheer and lifting my spirits.

From people who show restraint and resist complaining when yes, there is plenty to complain about. Who look for the good and find it, and then tell us about that.  
Encouraging me to remain optimistic.

From the quiet stillness of the early morning hours.
My heart remembers peace is possible.

From the beauty of the sunrise.
New mercies are mine for the taking, come rain or shine or Coronavirus.

From reading God's word and mediating on this holy season of extraordinary love and sacrifice.
I have hope. What's more heartening-cheering-motivating-inspiring-encouraging than that?

Let's all resolve in this upside down season of life to be encouragers, not discouragers.
We can do it, and I'm encouraging us to try.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Don't Even Think About It

Happy Saturday! Every day is Saturday now, right? I'm still chugging along in the April A to Z Blog Challenge and enjoying it so far. Onward-

Day 4-D is for Don't 

Once I landed on a theme of sorts I sent an email to 26 friends and family members letting them know I would need their help. Since my mom doesn't check her email regularly I phoned her to explain what I was doing and to get her word. Before I told her what it was for I said,

"Mom. If I say the letter D what is the first word that comes to mind?'
And in true motherly fashion she laughed and said-Don't. 

If that is not one of the quintessential words representing motherhood around the globe then I don't know what is.

Don't slam the door
talk with your mouth full
run with scissors
go out with wet hair

Don't leave those things there
make me call Dad
roll your eyes
get up from the table until you've eaten your peas
get in a car with strangers
say anything if you can't say something nice
let me catch you doing that again

Don't forget to wash your hands!
brush your teeth
return your library book
clean your room

Don't forget to say I'm sorry
mind your manners
ask for help

Don't forget your passport
your orthodontist appointment after school
your grandmother's birthday

Don't forget you promised

Don't forget to call
to text
to let me know when you get home

Don't panic
Don't give up
Don't worry

Don't forget I love you to the moon and back
I want what's best for you
I'm on your side

Don't forget this moment
this day
where you came from

Don't forget you're never alone
God loves you
He's got the whole world in His hands

Thanks Mom
for this word
for teaching me life's do's and don'ts

Don't forget you're special
and oh so loved

Friday, April 3, 2020

When Life Feels Catawampus Look Up

Three in a row...whoohoo! It's easier to keep at this when you have no where to go. Continuing today with the April A to Z Blog Challenge.

Day 3-C is for Collection 

As in a collection of words.
Chatterbox. Chaos. Cargo. Children. And my favorite-catawampus-brought to you by my word loving Daughter1 who is currently in week 4,822 of social distancing.

In an apartment.

In South Korea.

With a busy and bright 2 1/2 year old chatterbox, and his five-month old brother who is, in a word-chill.

Boy knows how to relax.

While I may have exaggerated the number of weeks they've been dealing with the virus there, I'm sure it  feels much longer than just a couple of months. Was January really just a couple months back? What in the world is going on with time?

In any case, the measures put in place by the South Korean government and our US military leaders stationed there seem to have worked, which tells me everyone here needs to stay the course. Or get on the course if you're one of those still not following the guidelines. ahem.

Daughter1 needed to call me to talk about her words. She had a whole long list and couldn't narrow it down to just one so I said throw 'em all at me and I'll make it work. She is in the heavy lifting years of child rearing so all her words relate to that most wonderfully exhausting, sometimes boring, utterly blissful season of parenting tiny humans.

What's cargo got to do with anything you ask? Well when you're mom to a 2-1/2 year old mancub who loves his trains you spend a lot of time talking about cargo. And tinder. And smokestacks, track repair, the station house, and a very cranky crane.

His other favorite way to pass the time?

Careening down a hill on his bicycle. Relax, this is a pathway to the playground, not a busy street. I swiped this from a video my daughter sent and in it she reminds him to look up.

A good reminder for us all, but I digress.

Is it strange to anyone else to see a two year old riding a bicycle? My generation had it all wrong. We taught our kids when they were five or six years old to pedal while we jogged behind them, awkwardly hunched over hanging on to the back of their seat. Only after they learned to pedal did we attempt to teach them balance. Now they teach kids to balance and add the pedals later which makes so much more sense. I don't know why it took us 30 years to figure that out.

And now for the piece de resistance. Catawampus. Who else is a fan?
There are certain words we love to say in our house and this one for sure makes our top ten. lf you're not familiar it means askew or awry. It can also be used to mean fierce-savage-destructive and conveniently both definitions seem to fit our current state.

Raise your hand if you think life is feeling a little catawampus these days.

I don't think my daughter meant for me to make this post about her, but sometimes I start writing and the words take me where I never intended to go.

Counting my blessings today, and my remarkable daughter who is cute as a button, coping with life in a foreign country during a global pandemic, capable-calm-and cheerful, showing me how it's done, rates right up there at the top of my list.