Thursday, July 25, 2019

I Had No Idea!

"Mail call!" I sang out as I came in the house. I had sorted the envelopes while walking down our driveway, culling the junk mail and dropping it in the trash bin outside and stashing mundane-looking items in my purse. Now I was holding aloft 4 or 5 envelopes addressed to my husband.

That had been my routine for the past week or so. Since word of his diagnosis had gotten 'round.

I wasn't surprised when the envelopes addressed  only to my husband began arriving, but he was. In fact, when I presented the envelopes every afternoon, he looked at them somewhat suspiciously, as if I was playing a prank on him.

I handed him that day's collection and went to the kitchen to refresh his glass of cold water. I didn't want to hover; I wanted to give him his privacy as he read messages that, I learned when I read them every evening after he went to bed, contained heartfelt personal messages.

When I returned a few minutes later with his water and some fruit, he looked up at me from where he was sitting on the couch. He looked shyly embarrassed.

"I can't believe all these people are taking the time to send me cards and messages. I had no idea!"

"No idea, what?" I asked, sitting next to him on the couch.

"I had no idea that this many people liked me."

I was shocked by my husband's statement. He was a great guy. Nice to others, non-judgmental, easy-going, quiet (until you got to know him), funny and fun-loving, always willing to help others . . .

Everyone liked him! It was obvious. How could he not know?

The truth is, though, that countless people walk through each day of their life never feeling liked or loved by anyone outside their immediate family. By coworkers or acquaintances. Even by friends.

And that simply breaks my heart. Just as my husband's words broke my heart that afternoon nearly 10 years ago.

If you know my family's story, you realize that my husband's cancer journey didn't end well for those of us left behind.

43 days after his diagnosis, 39 days after his 48th birthday, 13 days before what would have been our 25th wedding anniversary, he passed away.

Today would have been his 58th birthday.

I wish that today you were preparing to come over to our house for a huge birthday party. We'd have his favorites -- white cake with whipped cream frosting and ho-made ice-cream. We'd sing happy birthday and joke & laugh as he tried to blow out 58 candles on his cake. And there'd be lots of teasing about him being an "old man".

Instead of having you over for a party, I have a favor to ask of you. It may be a challenge for you, but that's okay. It's a good challenge -- one that will make you feel great. I promise!

Whether or not you knew my husband, I ask you to do one thing for the next 39 days.

Once a day, every day, somehow convey to someone you know -- preferably a different person each day --  that they bring you joy, that they are important to you.

That you like them.

It doesn't have to be a grand gesture. Often, it's the little things that mean the most. You can do it anonymously, if you're shy.

But do it. Before it's too late.

You don't think you can do that for 39 days? That's okay. Do it once. Today. Then do it again tomorrow. Maybe, just maybe, you'll feel moved do it again the next day.

Don't know what to do? I've created a list below to inspire you, and if you have any ideas to add, please share them via a comment to this post. 

Wait! You can't think of 39 people? I've got a list for that as well. Just scroll on down. :)

These are the cards, stored in a wicker basket in my bedroom. Someday I want to read them again. Every single one was a blessing, a gift of love. 

Suggestions to get you started: 

a regular-mail card (that you took the time to go out, buy a card and then mail it speaks volumes itself  ~~ a phone call  ~~ a bouquet of flowers (doesn't need to be large or even store-bought ~~ just tell them ~~ an act of service ~~ stop by for a visit ~~ a hug ~~ a cupcake or other treat ~~ spend time with them doing what they want to do ~~ ask them about their day and really listen to their response ~~ load the dishwasher if it's typically their job ~~ wash their car ~~

But who? Who will you tell?

your spouse ~~ child/grandchild ~~ a parent ~~ a sibling ~~ a coworker ~~ your pastor ~~  your neighbor ~~ that cousin you grew up with ~~ an old classmate you haven't talked to often enough in recent years ~~ an "old" (previous) teacher ~~ a grandparent ~~ the person you sit by in Sunday School or Bible study ~~ kid who mows you lawn ~~ your doctor ~~ the nurse who always puts you at ease when she has to draw blood (yes, I'm that way about needles) ~

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Beautiful Warrior (book review)

In a nutshell, Beautiful Warrior -- Finding Victory Over the Lies Formed Against You by Tina Yeager is a phenomenal book!

I was at first put off by the subtitle (Finding Victory Over the Lies Formed Against You). I don't think of myself as a person about whom others are forming lies, and I felt confident that over the past 13 years I've developed an honest assessment of myself (more on that later). I simply didn't see how this book related to me, but something kept drawing me back to it. I reluctantly purchased an electronic version and began reading.

Before I was even finished with the second paragraph of chapter one, I was captivated.

Yeager opens with a candid and very moving account of her own experience at a women's weekend retreat that leads the reader into an issue that is relevant, timely, and critical.

In today's culture, women (and men, for that matter) are continually bombarded with messages from the advertising and entertainment industries, social media, peers, etc., upon which they conceive and develop a sense of their own identity and self-worth.

The result? Feelings of insecurity. Loneliness. Bitterness. Self-doubt. Rising rates of anxiety and depression. Self-harming behaviors and even suicide.

Yeager, a licensed professional counselor, offers an antidote, a more sound approach that leads to a more accurate and and infinitely-healthier sense of self.

In thirteen very informative chapters, Yeager addresses topics such as comparison, human approval vs Godly approval, overcoming loneliness, addressing bitterness, and developing emotional strength and dignity. Each chapter provides practical, doable strategies and study questions that lead the reader from unhealthy self-assessment to a healthy one based on who she really is -- a woman created in God's image.

Yeager delivers her life-altering message not as a lofty scribe preaching from the mountaintop. Instead, hers is the voice of a friend sitting across from the reader at the kitchen table, cup of tea in hand, recounting with refreshing transparency her own experiences and sharing life-changing wisdom. It is one of a trusted friend -- kind, compassionate, and loving.

As I read, I quickly realized that this book does apply to me. For much of my life I had assessed myself on the basis of societal norms. At age age 46, after a life crisis and wake-up call, I began to reevaluate who I was. I pondered and prayed and journaled, and I was honest in my assessment -- brutally honest. Harsh. Unforgiving.

Yeager gently guided me to see that neither yardstick -- society's or that of a rigid, unforgiving judge -- is healthy. More importantly, neither is valid.

Instead, it is imperative that you and I see ourselves as God sees us. That we finally, truly understand who God says we are and live accordingly.

Beautiful Warrior is indeed a life-changing book. It's so wonderful that, minimalist though I am, I purchased a second copy -- a print copy that I can hi-lite and annotate. And 5 more copies are in my shopping cart so I can give copies to young and not-so-young women who are dear to my heart.

It's that kind of book -- the kind you will read once and again, rave about to your friends, and give as a gift.

It truly is phenomenal!