Friday, April 27, 2007

What I'm Hearing Lately

"Where there is no vision, the people perish."
-Proverbs 29:18

This is the verse that I am hearing over and over in my heart lately.
I've been doing some serious reflecting this week.

Today my uncle (who doesn't know I have a blog) sent me an email forward. It is a story that resonates in my heart, because it is indeed exactly what I've been trying to grapple with in my life these days. I will elaborate more at the end of this post.

Here's the email:

The first day of school our professor introduced himself and challenged us to get to know someone we didn't already know. I stood up to look around when a gentle hand touched my shoulder. I turned around to find a wrinkled, little old lady beaming up at me with a smile that lit up her entire being.

She said, "Hi, handsome. My name is Rose. I'm eighty-seven years old. Can I give you a hug?"

I laughed and enthusiastically responded, "Of course you may!" and she gave me a giant squeeze.

"Why are you in college at such a young, innocent age?" I asked.

She jokingly replied, "I'm here to meet a rich husband, get married, and have a couple of kids..."

"No seriously," I asked. I was curious what may have motivated her to be taking on this challenge at her age.

"I always dreamed of having a college education and now I'm getting one!" she told me.

After class we walked to the student union building and shared a chocolate milkshake. We became instant friends.

Every day for the next three months we would leave class together and talk nonstop. I was always mesmerized listening to this "time machine" as she shared her wisdom and experience with me.

Over the course of the year, Rose became a campus icon and she easily made friends wherever she went. She loved to dress up and she reveled in the attention bestowed upon her from the other students. She was living it up.

At the end of the semester we invited Rose to speak at our football banquet. I'll never forget what she taught us.

She was introduced and stepped up to the podium. As she began to deliver her prepared speech, she dropped her three by five cards on the floor.

Frustrated and a little embarrassed she leaned into the microphone and simply said,
"I'm sorry I'm so jittery. I gave up beer for Lent and this whiskey is killing me! I'll never get my speech back in order so let me just tell you what I know."

As we laughed she cleared her throat and began,
"We do not stop playing because we are old; we grow old because we stop playing.

There are only four secrets to staying young, being happy, and achieving success.

You have to laugh and find humor every day.

You've got to have a dream. When you lose your dreams, you die
. We have so many people walking around who are dead and don't even know it!

There is a huge difference between growing older and growing up. If you are nineteen years old and lie in bed for one full year and don't do one productive thing, you will turn twenty years old. If I am eighty-seven years old and stay in bed for a year and never do anything I will turn eighty-eight. Anybody can grow older. That doesn't take any talent or ability. The idea is to grow up by always finding opportunity in change.

Have no regrets. The elderly usually don't have regrets for what we did, but rather for things we did not do. The only people who fear death are those with regrets."

She concluded her speech by courageously singing "The Rose." She challenged each of us to study the lyrics and live them out in our daily lives.

At the year's end Rose finished the college degree she had begun all those years ago. One week after graduation Rose died peacefully in her sleep.

Over two thousand college students attended her funeral in tribute to the wonderful woman who taught by example that it's never too late to be all you can possibly be.
These words have been passed along in loving memory of ROSE.


We make a Living by what we get, We make a Life by what we give.

God promises a safe landing, not a calm passage.
If God brings you to it, He will bring you through it.

I was reading an issue of "Ladies Home Journal" the other day, and there was a story in it about listening, and how listening validates both the hearer and the speaker's souls.

It talked about a psychologist who had been in a catastrophic accident. He was paralyzed. He was contemplating suicide.

As he was lying in icu, his nurse came up and said, "Pardon me, but if you don't mind me asking, are you a psychologist?" He responded that indeed he was. The nurse said, "Do you mind if I ask you a question?" He encouraged her to go on.

Her question was, "Does everyone think about suicide from time to time?" He looked the nurse in the eye and said, "Do you care to talk about this?" She nodded, and pulled up a chair beside his bed.

She spoke, and he listened for two hours. The nurse left the room with hope, able to face her challenges.

The experience had an unexpected impact on the psychologist. He knew, having helped the nurse, that he could go on living. He could help others, and he was not helpless to contribute to the world.

These three things I mention: the verse from Proverbs, the email forward, and this article, all speak the same thing to me.

I was losing hope. I had convinced myself that I had nothing to look forward to. I felt that my health was robbing me of my ability to contribute, and I was feeling like a lost cause.

The thing of it is, I believe everything in life happens for a reason. I couldn't...and still don't see what possible purpose all these health issues serve. But like the serenity prayer indicates, I'm starting to see that there are some things I can't change, some things I can, and I need to be wise enough to know the difference. I can't change my allergies, but I can change my attitude.

Further, there are a few things I know about my life:

  • I'm not dead yet.
  • I can still type, walk, smile, laugh, hug my kids, enjoy my loved ones
  • I am tenacious enough not to give up when I feel like quitting
  • I have people who love and support me
  • I have to cultivate my dreams, or my soul will wither and I will die inside. Setting goals that are fun...that's one step in that direction.
  • I have many things I can do well....writing, listening, encouraging others...I have a's to use those gifts to their fullest.
  • I have a home...two, actually, and more possessions than I'll ever need-two cars, a full time job and clothes on my back.
  • I have the continuing ability to see the humor in life and I need to keep laughing...even if I have to actively seek out something that makes me laugh. Maybe it's a comedic movie...maybe it's a humorous book, or maybe it's watching my pets' antics. Whatever it is, I have to look for the humor in life. The health benefits are worth it.
  • My health has its ups and downs, but as long as I have breath in my body, I can contribute. I may not be able to contribute by mowing the lawn or by cleaning out a dusty barn...but I can wash a dish, do a load of laundry, or mop a floor.
  • Not to be forgotten, I have this blog. It's a place where I can dump my pain and find some relief for a little while. It's a place where I can connect with supportive friends and gain valuable insight from them.

I'm still not 100%....I've still fighting the shortness of breath and chest pain, but it gets better day by day.

I feel like myself again, and I feel like living, giving and growing.

I will be okay.

Thanks for being there this week as I regrouped.

Hugs! Have a good weekend; I love you all!


pat said...

And you my dear Kristi are a wonder. Thank you for an enlighten post.

Holli said...

Wow, isn't God good how He brings us full circle and He gives us a word that makes everything click and see things His way?
Praise Him!!
I am so grateful and I am blessed by your writings!

neicybelle said...

thank you...
thank you for finding your hope again! thank you for looking on the positive side of life! you are an amazing, wonderful woman and i'm so grateful for you!