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"For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain." I lived on the banks of a river . . . and it captured my attention. These are my observations about the parallels between my life...and the river.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Currents of Change

It's been a while since I've written anything -- almost a week! Guess I ran out of thoughtful things to say. Or maybe it's just that the week was so full that I couldn't stop to reflect.

As I look back now, on the cusp of another whirlwind week, I'm remembering a few things that happened that deserve some reflection. Good news first! I was working with one of our consultants this past week and he had some really good feedback about my work since the transition into my new position. Not only did he share this good feedback with me, but also with my boss. Always nice.

This weekend my sister came to visit me. We had a wonderful time, hanging out, doing some things that we've had as special sister traditions for years! Things we don't get to do now that we don't live in the same city. I also had the pleasure of introducing her to some new-to-her indulgences! Real gelato and italian ice straight from the family owned italian shop/bakery right up the street from my place.

Of course, no visit is complete without a visit to the river! We walked down around sunset and enjoyed the neighborhood, then the peace and tranquility of the riverbanks.

Well, tranquil until the mosquitoes and black flies crashed our peaceful party! But by then it was time to head back anyway.

On Saturday we went out to breakfast to another one of our favorite spots -- then I drafted her into helping me rearrange the furniture in my apartment! What fun that was! Amazingly enough, it worked out almost exactly as I had mapped it in my head. Change is good. As long as I'm in control of it, that is! :-)

In the process of rearranging, some things were released from their hiding places. Places they had been stashed out of sight. Most of the stuff will just be boxed and restashed in the basement, but a few things caught my attention and will remain nearby.

I came across a few old photo albums. One of them spans my later high school years. There are pictures of my friends, family, even a few of my dad! I was happy to see that. It was good to see pictures of him when he was healthy. Good memories.

But it was interesting to see myself through the years. Seeing the pictures brings back memories of who I was then -- things I was involved in, people I knew, places I went. Some of it seems like a different lifetime entirely! Some of it seems like a completely different person.

I saw pictures of friends that I haven't spoken to in years. I wouldn't even begin to know how to find them now. Amazing how life takes us on and people come and go from our lives.

Looking through those albums brought back so many memories, so much "stuff". Some of it so very pleasant, some of it absolutely miserable. There are times that I recall fondly, others that I don't even want to be reminded of.

Yet, even as I flip the pages quickly to avoid certain memories, I realize that I am thankful for all of it. I look at the person that I was then, and I look at who I am now, and I realize that I would not be who I am today if I had not experienced the things that shaped me. No, not always pleasant. Yes, some of it was detrimental.

But all of it together made me into who I am today. And I am pleased with who I am. I have goals of who I want to continue to become, and I have many shortcomings that I am well aware of. But as I reflect on the trip down memory lane, I have to say that regardless of how miserable it was then, I am a better person now for having learned each lesson, or experienced each situation.

Life is a journey, not a destination. Like the river, we are always changing, moving. The rocks, roots and crevices in its path shape it. You never step into the same river twice. I am thankful for the photo albums and the good news that my life IS like a river -- and not like a stagnant pond.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Funny thing . . .

I was in a meeting today at work and somehow the topic of discussion turned to change and seizing the moment. My boss started talking about the difference between a river and a pond -- when fishing in a pond, whatever you don't catch now will be there later. It's not going anywhere. But in a river, it's always changing, always moving on so you have to make the most of every opportunity because you can't come back tomorrow and find the same opportunity.

I thought it rather interesting that I was not the one to bring up the analogy of a river! And no, I did not start a deep discussion about life in the river.

But I did decide that there are times when I'd much prefer it to be "Life In The Pond". Less change, things are more stable, more secure. Everything's under control. No whitewater rapids, no scary, unexpected waterfalls or boulders. Just calm. Peaceful.

But then I thought a little more about the pond and realized that I HATE ponds, except to look at from a distance. Why? Because there's a lot of muck and yucky stuff in a pond! Stuff you don't find in a river. Where does that nasty stuff come from?

From being stagnant.

From not moving and not changing.

Ugh. I'm not a big fan of change, but I'd rather change than become stagnant, bacteria filled and mucky, that's for sure!! Ewww.

So for today at least, I'm OK with the scary parts. As long as I know I'll make it through to the other side. As long as I know that I won't have to go through them completely alone.

And I know these things are true -- I have God's word -- His promise -- that He will not ever leave me. That He has a plan to prosper me and not harm me. That there is hope for my future. Now, not always exactly the hope I might be hoping for!! No, God and I don't always see eye to eye on what is best for me.

But I trust Him. He's never let me down. I don't always understand, and sometimes I get really angry at what He allows to happen to me. But I can honestly say that He's brought me through everything so far and never left me. So I believe that I can continue to move ahead, knowing that whatever comes, He will still not leave me to go through it alone.

Reminds me of the words to one of my favorite hymns -- an oldie, but a goodie!

When peace like a river attendeth my way
When sorrows like sea billows roll
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

These things happen for a reason . . .

I was supposed to go away this weekend. Supposed to spend a few days vacationing with my family. Even had time off from work! But the day before I was supposed to leave, I got sick. VERY sick. Not the kind of sick where you can push through and go on with your plans anyway, rather the kind of sick that has you O.U.T.

So I was out. For 2 full days. I was so upset about not being able to go. I was talking to a friend on the phone in the afternoon and I was crying because I was sick and in pain, and because I was mad that I wouldn't be able to see my family.

Yes, I was crying. Being sick breaks down my defenses, OK? I was pretty much a basketcase. Not a pretty sight. (But I am better now. More in control of my emotions, at least!)

Being the good friend that he is, my tears didn't bother him. He just listened and tried to calm me down a little. (Apparently being hysterical doesn't really aid the healing process) He prayed for me, which calmed me down, then he told me to wait until the morning to make my final decision on whether to go or stay. Hey, maybe there would be a nighttime miracle and I would be better in the morning!

Or maybe not.

The next morning I was totally wiped out, (as in, could barely get out of bed) and realized that it would be foolish to attempt a 5 1/2 hour drive alone. He called to see how I was and I told him I was staying home. He agreed with the wisdom in that, then said something that usually sounds a little cliche, but somehow, he made it sound reasonable.

"You know, nothing happens by accident. I really think that there is a reason that you got sick, a reason that you're supposed to stay home."

In my mind I'm thinking, 'Sure, yeah, make it sound good. I'm still mad.'

But then this morning, I got an email from another friend who knew I was sick and cancelled my plans to go out of town. She said the same exact thing! Coincidence? Maybe.

But seeing as I do believe that the God of the Universe holds my life in His hands, and that He has a plan for me, and that He provides each breath that I breathe, I realize that I do have to agree with what they said. I may never know the reason. Maybe I would have been involved in a serious accident. Maybe I would have missed out on something special here, at home. (Actually, I did spend a fun evening with friends tonight, even if I am still dragging and not at my full energy level)

Who knows? I certainly don't know the answer. And when my mom called today to see how I was feeling and tell me what they were doing on vacation, yes, I was a little sad. Yes, I do miss them. Yes, I really wanted to spend a few days with them.

Hey, maybe the big thing that was supposed to happen this weekend is me growing up enough to make a wise decision. I wanted so badly to get in my car and make that drive -- and I probably could have made it through sheer determination! But I would have worn myself ragged and probably gotten sicker. I know that I would not have been ready for work again on Monday! So for me to make the decision to stay home and rest, well that shows a bit of growth for me! :-) Some responsibility even. Thinking ahead and making a decision based on all the factors, not just instant gratification.

So, I guess I'll probably never know the "true reason" why I had to cancel my vacation. But that's OK. I trust that my life is in the hands of One Who knows much more than I do. And I will enjoy the rest of this weekend, whatever it may bring.

These things happen for a reason!

Sunday, July 16, 2006


That word describes my weekend! Spec-TAC-ular. I went out of town to visit friends and had such a wonderful time! Met a new friend too. :) And that was truly a pleasure.

There is something about a weekend away with friends that is so relaxing. You're not in your own home, so you're not seeing the laundry, dishes, or other random things that "need" to be done! You can just chill. And there's usually the opportunity to see new things and explore a different place!

Which is what we did. A night on the town! Walked all over, saw some historic things, enjoyed some good food, watched the people around us . . .

Oh, and sat by the water! Yup. I love water. This was a much larger body of water than the river -- we sat on the edge of the harbor with our feet dangling, the moonlight and city lights reflecting on the surface. Watched boats coming in and out, dreamed of yachts and moonlight dance cruises.

Fun conversation, catching up with an old friend, getting to know a new one, finding you have much in common! Now that makes for a great weekend. Actually, that's where the term "spectacular" fits. :)

Another thing -- I am all for modernization, convenience, technology, all the stuff that makes our lives so cushy. I am grateful for it! But there are some things from a simpler time that I also love. Cobblestone streets, for one. So beautiful. So unique. Creating a whole different set of sounds that our ears aren't used to hearing. Forcing us to slow down a little (who can walk fast on cobblestones?!), to engage our senses, to appreciate the present. Don't rush so quickly into the next moment, enjoy the one you have right now!

A visit to an old town with cobblestone streets and many historical places is just what I needed. And the visit with friends, and the making of a new one was certainly icing on the cake!

Early tomorrow morning I will be back at the river. But with new experiences on my mind, and much to be happy about! The river is always changing. Floods come, but then the waters recede again. The same is true with life. Hard times come, bad things happen. But eventually life goes on, and you once again experience good, happier times. A different person for sure. The tough times affect us. Some of those scars are with us to our graves. But they don't have to define us, and they CERTAINLY don't have to keep us from ever being happy again!

A toast . . . to friends -- both new, and old.
To cobblestone streets and good conversation.
To embracing each moment with arms flung wide!
To life!!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006


Rejection is one of life's most difficult, painful things to deal with. No matter who it's coming from, or how old we are, it hurts.

"We regret to inform you that the promotion you've been working toward for the past 3 years has been given to someone else."

"You know, I just don't think you are/have what I'm looking for in a partner." "I know I asked you to stand up for me at my wedding, but I changed my mind . . ."

Rejection comes in many different ways. And no matter the situation, it always leaves us feeling insufficient.

Am I not good enough? Not pretty enough? Not a good enough friend? But what about all I've given, even
sacrificed, to be in that place? Was it all for nothing?

And we are left with many questions. A little more alone than we were before, with a little less hope about the job, the relationship, whatever it is that we were rejected from.

Rejection is a part of life. Much like death. It is painful, but sometimes necessary. Some people need to learn how to reject in a gentle, loving way, (i.e. NOT through email and not by assigning blame) but even in the gentlest, kindest form, it still hurts. It still leaves us e m p t y.

Having found myself on the receiving end of a few rejections this past week, I was in a fragile emotional state. Alternating between tears and hurt feelings, anger and indignance.

What do you mean I'm not good enough? Do you have ANY idea how hard I'm working?!

What do you mean you don't need me any more?
Do you even have
ONE CLUE how indebted you are to me?

What do you mean you've moved on and have new friends?
Does everything I've poured into this relationship for the past 5 years mean nothing to you?

In the middle of feeling the hurt and asking the questions and crying the tears, I went to the river. I wasn't sure why, but I felt it calling to me.

The surface was still as glass. No rushing waters, no raging rapids. These were in my heart and mind instead. But the river was peaceful.

I found myself pouring my heart out. Releasing all the pain an anger over what had been done to me, and letting the peace of the river seep into my soul.

And I started to feel a little bit better.

Not that it didn't hurt anymore, just that the raging storms were starting to be calmed.

Sitting by the river is almost like sitting at the feet of Jesus.
He asks us to bring our cares and burdens and lay them at His feet.
In return, He offers peace to calm our troubled souls.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

The river keeps on rolling . . .

Does a river ever come to a certain point and say, "Hmmm, I like it here. The banks are soft and comfortable, the trees are nice . . . I think I'll stay right here!"

No. Rivers keep moving. Always changing.

I hate change.

No, wait -- let me rephrase. I hate change unless I initiate it. If it's my idea, then it's fine and I'll go full steam ahead! But when things change that are out of my control, I get really uncomfortable. And the world around me usually gets to hear about it! I have yet to learn how to go with the flow all the time. Or even go with the flow of change peacefully or submissively.

The kind of change that hurts me the most, that affects me the deepest, is loss. Most change involves loss of one kind or another, but sometimes the things gained far outweigh whatever may be lost.

But only sometimes.

Tonight as I sat watching the fireworks, I wanted the river to stop. To flow backwards, actually. I've seen fireworks many times, in many different places in the country (and in the world!) in my lifetime. I love fireworks!

But tonight as I watched, I was transported in my mind to a time years ago when I was a little girl. I remember being at a fireworks display with my parents and being scared because it was so loud, and I could feel the earth shaking under us with each terrifying boom. I was so scared that I couldn't even open my eyes to enjoy the beautiful colors! I just remember crying and wanting to go home.

But then my daddy reached out, lifted me onto his lap and guided my attention to the sky. He told me that it was OK, he would protect me, and that if I looked I would see something really pretty.

I remember settling into his lap, feeling so secure and safe, plugging my ears and being absolutely in awe at the beauty of the display.

And as I sat tonight, watching the beautiful colors once again, I found myself looking up further into the heavens, wondering, "Daddy, can you see them from up there? Can you see me? I'm not scared anymore. I miss you, but I'm not scared. Thank you for teaching me to look beyond my fear and into the beauty."

How is it that I, who hate change so much, can be so in love with the river? How is it that I feel such a sense of constancy from something that is always changing? Maybe it is because the river keeps going -- regardless. It perseveres over boulders, through crevices, loss or no loss, pushing, pushing, pushing, and it doesn't allow anything to keep it from moving on.

The river is an inspiration to me.

Sunday, July 02, 2006


I didn't go to the river this morning. When I went running at 5am yesterday, the waters were receeding and my jogging trail was once again usable, although terribly muddy. I decided to sleep in today rather than go running. (Sunday being a day of rest and all) But I miss it. There is something about getting there, and sitting on the banks. Seeing that all is well. The river is still there, still flowing.

It speaks to my soul.

It says, 'No matter what you're going through, be it a flood or a jam, things will eventually return to normal and life will go on. Just have faith that the God Whose hand is on the river is the same God Whose hand is on your life.'

And it brings me peace.

Every time.

Another reason I love to go to the river is that there is a spot that I love to sit -- it's on a rock and it's sheltered so that if I sit facing the river, I can forget the neighborhoods and city behind me. Especially in the early morning when it is so still and quiet. It is the perfect place to sort out my thoughts. To pray, to seek God's guidance.

Sometimes He is silent.

Sometimes I am silent.

But I always come away nourished and at peace. It's as if the gentle waves and ripples, or the serenity of a perfectly smooth surface, work their way into my soul and work the same magic on the raging insanity of my thoughts. Similar to how a magnet takes electrons that are all jumbled and causes them to line up and face the same direction. (I looked that up online 'cuz I couldn't remember the proper terms, so if I still have it wrong, blame the Department of Energy's 'Ask a Scientist' website!)

If the river could feel, would it feel pain? There are environmental changes that affect the river and it can not resist the changes. Winter, for example, brings freezing temperatures. Does the river ever say, 'NO!! I don't WANT to be frozen! I want to run freely!'

I remember listening to a book on tape as a child. It was by Ethel Barrett (a wonderful children's author) and it was about a body of water. Stream, lake, river, I can't recall. I don't remember much of the story line except that it took place in the wintertime and the water was frozen over.

The part that I remember most clearly is the water resisting the ice, saying "GET OFF MY BACK!!" and feeling crushed and restricted.

I frequently feel that way. When the pressures and troubles of my circumstances try to force me into a box, or a mold. When they hold me captive.

What about rocks? Rivers encounter rocks. At times there are many. Enough to create a set of whitewater rapids. That certainly provides a thrill for those of us that love to go whitewater rafting!! But does the river enjoy that?

There are rocks in my life as well. Boulders, really. And they frequently create a rolling, frothing, explosive reaction. Unlike the river, I doubt that anyone gets any pleasure out of my "whitewater rapids"! It's more like a volcanic explosion, I'm afraid.

But once again, the rapids do not last forever, -- nor does winter -- and eventually, the circumstances subside. Ice melts, rocks are bypassed, and the river resumes its more gentle flow.