Some Blocks and Keys to Success

Finding what we love and have the talents for takes longer for some of us than others. We may have a lot of small talents and interests, so we tend to move from one project or job to another.
Often those who naturally have good study or work habits will out-perform those that appear to have more talent or higher IQ’s.
And lack of confidence can cause us to be over sensitive to suggestions for improvement, making us unteachable and leading to discouragement and giving up.
But, when we combine our natural abilities and focus those on what we value most, it makes a huge difference in how well we do.
Then motivation becomes the key to perseverance. And even those of us who hate detail and repetition can manage to do the necessary nitty-gritty to accomplish what we consider important.
PRIORITIZE: What interests and energizes you most that you are reasonably competent to do?
FOCUS: Identify resources of time, money, space, training, materials, and support people needed to accomplish this.
PERSEVERE: Don’t give up if you fail. Learn from your mistakes. Get help when you need it. Constructive criticism is instruction. Be realistic in your goal.

To my mother & daughters: “Sorry about…you know… the world.” #Mother’sDay Apology #SundayBlogShare #humor

Barb Taub

To my parents and my kids— “I’m SO sorry about the whole world. Except for chocolate. And coffee, of course. “

For the past year, I have done very little work on my current writing projects. We bought a house, and for the first time I felt like I understood my mother.

Mother had her first five children in six years. Someone asked her about that childless year in the middle. “That was the year,” explained Mother, “we bought the house.” The Year Of The House included but was not limited to:

  • My brother falling into the hole being dug for the new basement bathroom (one broken collarbone)
  • My attempt to slide down a bannister which stopped halfway down the stairs even though I didn’t (stitches in chin)
  • My brother running his arm through the wringer-washer (skin grafts)
  • My sister releasing the handbrake on their first new car (totalled—the car, not the…

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The Attack of the Centipede or I Am Never Going to Sleep Again

After falling and breaking my shoulder last year, I now sleep with a light on. Tonight about midnight, when I got back from my first trip to check out the plumbing, what to my horrified eyes did appear, but a sizable centipede crawling right over my head. Too short to reach it and too arthritic to climb, I was afraid to swat at it and have it fall possibly under, or even worse, into my bed.

Keeping one eye on it as it began to start down the wall, I grabbed a file folder to carry it out. Then cringing and gritting my teeth as it turned heading higher and more out of my reach, I woke up my husband for help. While he groggily tried to wake up, I turned back to do battle. As I pulled my bed with its nest of pillows and covers away from the wall, the centipede started back down. Holding my breath, I managed to lure it onto the folder. .
While considering my options, toilet or disposal, it raced on its hundred legs toward my hand. I screamed. Loudly! Then tried to think what I would tell the police if a neighbor called 911. “But officer, it was a centipede attack!”
But my hero arose and took the cardboard folder in time. I cheered quietly as he hurried with it toward the front door, then groaned as it took a dive to the floor.

A floor the same color as our centipede escapee.

Since neither of us had on our glasses or shoes, we tiptoed gingerly bending as low as we could. When wounded or killed, this kind of centipede gets its revenge. It stinks up the house. And if it’s just scared, it has tiny teeth that can bite. We would never have found it if it had stayed still. But as it raced to hide, it ran onto the folder. I grabbed the door and it was  thrown out of sight.

As I whispered “Hooray,” I thought my husband was taking a bow. But at our age, it’s easier to bend than get back upright. Once helped back to bed, he fell quickly to sleep.
But as I looked at my bed, I thought of its mate and that centipedes travel mostly at night.

Now as I type, I imagine things tickling my legs and my back.  And shudder as I imagine a hundred little feet and tiny teeth that can bite. So, my plan now is to stay up all night.

In Honor of Those Who Gave their Lives at Normandy

Travel Visions
An opulence of travel visions:
Paris, London, Lisbon, Prague,
beauty rampant with history and art.
Yet etched forever in my mind
the beaches and cross-crowned cliffs
above the shores of Normandy.
A cliff face sheering from the ocean,
Pointe du Hoc, where Army Rangers
climbed point blank into German guns.
Now, just empty bunkers on pitted earth
and beaches, wave washed innocent
below silent sentinels left behind.
Row on row of small white crosses
guarding fields of blood-rich ground,
Old Glory whipping, snapping in the wind.

Grieving Life’s Diverse Losses

Today I am realizing that when our children or couples we love divorce, there’s a mourning period involved. Particularly with friends that we only knew when they were married. We have to mourn and let go of those we have loved in relationship. It has nothing to do with thinking they should or shouldn’t divorce. It just involves coming to grips with the differences.

With a child we knew and loved long before they married or divorced, we at least have something to look back to, but not with the spouse that we only knew as a unit with our child. They simply aren’t the same person now that we have only known. There really is a necessary time of mourning, particularly if we truly came to love them as part of that unit. And mourning involves the stages of grief…..denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

I think recognizing this can help us not bog down hopelessly at any point in the process. I am also beginning to reflect on the possibility that we have to go through a similar process when either people we love or we ourselves change because of aging or illness.
I realize now that I need to cut myself some slack and take time to reflect on the effects of this recent period in my life that includes my own losses of abilities and joys through age and illness, my husband experiencing losses from these also, one of our adult children and a spouse that I loved deeply as a couple for many years now being divorced, and friends that I have loved and only known as a couple divorcing.
The last year and a half have simply been overwhelming and I have been bogged down in emotional denial of some of these things and in anger over others.
Hopefully, recognizing this  and my need for grace will help me move through to the peace of acceptance.

Connecting with God in the Hard Times through Praise

For the fourth Sunday of each month, I prepare and give the welcoming and introduction part of our worship service. I study the Lectionary Scriptures for that Sunday and prepare a short reflection and prayers as the introduction to the service.
I always start preparing ahead of time and try to listen to the particular Lectionary scriptures for that Sunday as if God is speaking to my own heart and situation. My Sunday in May was a few days after my husband’s surgery for lung cancer.
The first reading was from Acts 1 after Jesus ascended into heaven leaving his disciples praying together as they wait anxiously for the coming of the promised power of the Holy Spirit.
These Scriptures describe Christianity being born. The disciples are trying to learn to trust God even when they can no longer see Jesus. But when things are going badly, they still become anxious. Jesus has asked God to protect not only them, but all of us that follow him. So we, just like our brothers and sisters from the very beginning, can bring our fears to God. The followers of Jesus, not just in church on Sundays, but even through our internet connections, gather through prayer.
The second reading, 1 Peter, tells us to rejoice when we are sharing Christ’s suffering for we are blessed by the Spirit of God, resting on us. And after we have suffered a little while, the God of all grace will himself restore, support, strengthen, and establish us.
Letting go of fear of suffering is a challenge that I often don’t manage until I’m overwhelmed. But, when I do, I have found that I can let go of my fear by praising and thanking God for all He has done for me. It is much better when I don’t wait for times of obvious blessings to praise and thank God. When I actually praise God in the hard times, I realize that then suffering can bring me closer to him. That praise particularly connects me to God. God doesn’t need praise, we need to praise God. It changes our focus and gives us a new perspective that opens our eyes to the blessings all around us.
Here are some generic possibilities for praise and thanksgiving in hard times that I included in my reflection and prayers for Sunday worship.
God, our father, we praise your glory. You are perfect beauty far beyond what I have ever seen. You are truth that transforms my faith and fills me with your Spirit. You are the life changing power of grace that gives me inner strength. You are perfect love that can heal my heart, mind, body, and spirit.
Thank you for the reflections of your glory that I see in the beauty of nature. Thank you for your Spirit increasing my faith by opening my mind when I seek your truth in the Scriptures. Thank you for grace that strengthens me when I pray in times of suffering. And thank you most of all for your perfect love expressed in Jesus that heals and opens my heart to You.

Since I am a devout coward and a congenital worrier, I often miss God’s call to praise and thanksgiving and have to become almost bedridden with the pain of Fibromyalgia before I remember to cast my cares on the God who loves me tenderly and unconditionally. But when I not only praise in such general things, but move on to specific large and small blessings, such as our children who give us such wonderful support, the plethora of bright red cardinals outside my window, songs of praise coming from within that lift my heart and mind to God, even strangers in doctors’ waiting rooms and people who connect with me across the world through blogs, that pray for us and I for them, and  perhaps most of all, the powerful surges of the sometimes forgotten tenderness I feel for my husband, then the grace of joy bubbles up from deep inside me and my heart joins my mind in giving praise to God.

Home Again and Cancer Free

Amazing grace! They were able to do the least invasive surgery. The surgeon is sure they got all the cancer. And we are home two days after the surgery. The first day was difficult, but he was much better the second and really good today. He will need to have check-ups every three months to catch any possible return of cancer, but the doctor was very optimistic. Thanks be to God and to all the kind people who cared and prayed in their own way. I feel so blessed.

The Dance of Grace or The Force and Jesus

I know this is inadequate, but it is the best I can do to express my understanding of our relationship to God, Jesus, and one another. I so wish I could do this better.

Laughter: Carbonated Grace

I often talk like I see God as sort of a powerful, benevolent Santa Claus. But actually, my pitifully limited human comprehension is probably more like Star Wars’ the Force outside and within us.

So, as a great fan of Jesus, how do I understand his description of God as Abba, ‘Daddy,’ and his frequent conversations with Him? And what is the role Jesus plays in all this?
First, I think Jesus ‘Got’ God. And tried to communicate to us that the creative force behind the universe was not only still alive and involved doing  the creating thing all around us, but also still nurturing an unfinished universe and unfinished humanity from the inside out.

All of the universe, including humanity, is one. And the Whole (God) is greater than the sum of the parts.  Whatever this creative force that we call God is, it is “on our side,” because…

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Surgery Update

Julian’s lung surgery is scheduled for Tuesday, May 23rd. He has to be there at 6 am, but not sure of the actual surgery time. Heart and lung doctors and consultants all say his heart is fine and his pulmonary fibrosis has not progressed in the last year and so far it looks like the cancer cells are limited to one spot in his right lung. All prayers for my husband, Julian, greatly appreciated.

God is in the Timing: Part 2, The Testing. (Read Sign of Hope the previous post first.)

Remembering the blessings in a time of suffering..

Laughter: Carbonated Grace

That evening after the doctor’s appointment, Tommy’s fever broke. His eyes sparkled and he was his funny independent little self again.
“Everybody start looking for pots and vases,” I said cheerfully, as I organized the older children and my husband into a treasure hunt for containers for the daffodils. We found dozens in diverse sizes and appearance and brought all the beautiful golden blooms inside the house. Everywhere you looked, it was Easter. Everywhere you looked there was the love of God and hope for the future.
The year continued with Tommy still succumbing to frequent illnesses, but I clung to my sign of hope, believing that God would heal him without surgery. Tommy turned four in November and a week before Christmas I took him to the heart specialist for his yearly tests. I had been told in the beginning, that sometimes these heart valve defects closed on their…

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