It’s Christmas and our power is out.
Like so many others, our area was hit by a powerful storm that featured everything from unseasonably warm temperatures and rain to a rapid chill with fierce winds. That’s a recipe for a power outage.
But we’re among the lucky ones. We have a generator that supplies enough power to keep us warm and well-lit.
Until it didn’t. After running continuously for more than 24 hours, it quit.
I received the paperweight in this photo more than 40 years ago during what had just become the darkest Advent season of my life.
“This is a gift from Mrs. McCord and me,” the president of Princeton Seminary said to me as he pressed it in my hand.
A freak accident had injured my (at that time) husband, and radically altered the course of both of our lives. Sitting in the hospital chapel, having just received the news and allowing the gravity of the situation sink in, I was surprised to look up and see President McCord slide into the pew beside me. “I’m here to pray with you,” he said. Keep reading
It’s hard to believe that it’s been nearly five years since a major renovation to our house was nearing completion. As I look back, I’m thinking about what that project taught me – lessons about far more than tearing down and rebuilding physical structures. That project taught me not to fear letting go of what no longer works in my life, whether it’s a job I’ve outgrown, a toxic relationship, or a living situation that no longer meets my needs.
Letting go means leaving behind what has become familiar and comfortable, even though it may have long since ceased being useful or lifegiving. It means stepping into the new and unknown. That can be overwhelming and frightening.
Expressing gratitude is something I had always taken for granted. By that I mean that I just did it when I remembered (like sending thank-you notes), but otherwise didn’t think much about it. I certainly never considered expressing gratitude to be a spiritual discipline. And the possibility that such expressions might be therapeutic never occurred to me.
But recently that changed
Have you ever noticed that anxiety seems to have a life of its own?
When I’m anxious I have a sense of a storm growing inside me. My thoughts run away from me, creating a doomsday scenario of ferocious winds whipping up dark clouds and heavy seas into a fearsome storm.
Over the years, what I’ve found most helpful is to develop self-awareness. In other words, to both pay attention and to, and detach from, what’s going inside my head.
A few days ago, as I was going through boxes that hadn’t been opened in years, I ran across this little sculpture that my daughter made in a high school pottery class. As I held this little figure in my hand I was transported back to that time in my life. I was a single parent with one child in high school and another in college. And I held a high-pressure job for which I wasn’t particularly well-suited, but which paid the bills. It always seemed that the days were a blur of scheduling activities, carpooling, and traveling around the country for work.