Reflecting on this past month.
In April the word “connect” and its various forms infiltrated my thoughts daily. It may have started with the moment when our pastor’s wife was introducing me to a lady in our church. We were standing outside, had just worshiped outside. The lady stuck out her hand for a handshake, and I flinched. It was then that I knew I had some work to do on re-learning how to make connections! Sad to say, I did not shake that woman’s hand. I haven’t seen her again but when I do, I am ready now, for both an apology and a handshake!
Maybe that instance jumped out so clearly to me because I have been processing the ways this past year has affected me. When I told my doctor recently I was feeling blue, crying easily, we talked about how she had seen a rise in depression in recent months. She expressed particular sadness that it was her younger patients in particular who were experiencing depression. The doctor made a couple of recommendations, one to add a particular herb to my daily “brain” supplements, and the other to “connect” with others more intentionally. She also asked to check in with me again in a few weeks just to make sure I was improving. And I am – I’m grateful for her expertise, and for the grace of God in helping me sort through my feelings.
[Reminder: May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Depression is real. Not all depression is the same. Clinical depression needs treatment. There is no shame in illness, no shame in depression, no shame in mental illness.]
Where did you see God in April?
In April I saw God in the springtime as our treetops turned green again, as plants awoke from their winter sleep. I saw God in certain Tweets, interestingly enough. I know social media can be crazy, it often is, and to say that God is in it might be a stretch. But there are a few voices I look to for words of encouragement. And God is faithful to use those voices in my life – I call these sermon nuggets!
When did you laugh out loud in April?
I laughed out loud in April. Most often I laughed at or with my husband. His friendship is dear! I also laughed at or with the grandsons, the twins, that live with us. Recently they have been loving all things Lego Ninjago. So the other day, they had my phone, and decided to ask Siri about the Ninjago characters. She did not understand their questions, so repeatedly, Siri said, “Hmmmm, I didn’t get that. Could you try again?” Maybe you had to be there to see the frustration on the cutest 4 year old face, or maybe we were all tired at dinner that night, but we all laughed out loud when he said in a firm voice, “Siri, don’t say, ‘hmmmm!'” It was funny!
What is one word to describe what you hope for as we move into May?
As March ended, I was holding on to the word, “expectant!” I wrote, “As we enter April, I’m feeling expectant about interacting with others, about our next adventures. But my word for April goes beyond the ordinary! I also want to look for the unusual, the beautiful, the unexpected, even the inexplicable!” I can’t say I saw the “inexplicable.” I’m still thinking about that. But we did begin interacting more with others. As I wrote in a previous post, our family gathered around the dinner table again – all 10 of us, elbow to elbow, laughing, eating, swapping stories! It was glorious. Ron and I ventured out on some low-key dates, eating out, visiting botanical gardens.
As we move into May, I am continuing to think about the word, “connect!” My hope is for more face to face connections with friends. We see the possibilities of that happening as the small groups in our church are beginning to meet in person again, as we invite friends to our dinner table, as we begin interacting with people at church. Just this Sunday I hugged a number of folks and I have to say it felt really good!
I believe our good God uses even random moments, random words to shape our lives. That word, “connect,” is about more than meeting face to face with people. I’m also making connections in my reading. Lately I’ve highlighted a few lines from fiction that tied perfectly with thoughts that were prompted by the Spirit in reading the word.
Speaking of reading, in the last few weeks I’ve read some excellent posts that you might like! Check these out!
From Apathy to Empathy: How the Image of God Guides Our Treatment of Others written by Kymberli Cook, a doctoral student at Dallas Theological, is well-written and thoughtful piece on how Christians interact with culture around us. A quote to ponder, “As we consider how we as Christians should conduct ourselves in the public square, perhaps we should mirror how God currently treats those who reject His truth and His very self. He loves them and calls them into existence, bestowing His image on them. He has a vested interest in who they are as creatures (for we all “are his offspring,” Acts 17:28–29). He grants them dignity. He honors His creation with the gift of free will. His protection for them flows out of His immense love for them, evidenced by His providential care and His provision for their redemption.” (less than a 5 minute read)
You are not a paintbrush written by Sarah Westfall is an awesome reminder that God loves us not for what we do but for who we are! A quote to ponder, “Mankind is not a means to God’s end, but a manifestation of his presence.” (less than a 5 minute read) Sarah’s piece on connection is also an excellent read! What is in the room?
My friend, Ashley Wallace, wrote a short piece on Instagram/Facebook, a reflection based on the sermon her husband preached that day. The phrase, “But we had hoped,” inspired her words.
And one podcast episode that I’m still thinking about, reading about … how to do a “loose” examen of your day … A Morning Routine (on a Good Day) from the Podcast, A Drink with A Friend.
My mentor, Emily P. Freeman, suggests that we learn from looking back, and it helps to shape our walk going forward. Hope you enjoyed my reflection on April. If you are reflecting on life, love, God … share in the comments!