Hope Finds a Word

Many of my friends are choosing their words for the year. Although I don’t usually follow suit, one word has surfaced. This word and its meaning once stymied me because I could not find a practical way to utilize it.

But as I have searched for a workable definition, the practice and discipline of using this word has moved front and center.ballet-dancers

I believe this word is important to me – especially in 2017 – because of what happened in 2016. As a Christian, I was appalled at the vitriol I read on social media and how followers of Christ used their freedom of speech as a weapon.

Certainly, we should stand up for what we believe, but to attack other human beings – creations of God – just because they believe differently? Sheesh!

They will know we are Christians by our love.

So my word for the year addresses my traumatized soul and also gives me a higher bar to attain. The word is GRACE.

I know the Sunday School definition for grace: God’s Riches at Christ’s Expense. But I have searched for the practical version, a way to actually BE a Christian rather than just writing and/or posting my beliefs – hoping to stay away from the ugliness and cruelty witnessed last year.

The definition I have settled on is, “Grace is the disposition to or an act or instance of kindness, courtesy or clemency.”

To live with a focus on kindness, to show grace to the checker at Target who has been on her feet for eight hours and the guy in front of me is yelling at her because his coupon expired.

To see the tears threatening to spill over and when it is my turn, to briefly touch her hand and say, “I’m sorry about what just happened. I think you’re doing a great job.”

To park in the lot at Wal-Mart and instead of rushing inside to get my stuff, to show grace-filled courtesy to the elderly woman, lift her trunk and help her empty the cart – then offer to take her cart inside so she doesn’t have to walk all that way on a gimpy leg.

To realize none of us act as we should every single day and give grace when someone barks an insult or uses only one finger to wave at me in traffic.

To be grateful for my freedoms yet allow with grace for the differences among us as we exercise those freedoms.

And how does grace look if I turn it inward? What are the practical ways I can give myself grace in this new year?

To realize I am an achiever, yet my projects are not more important than my health. To rest even if I’m not sleepy.

To allow myself breaks to take a long walk, to sit on the deck and marvel at the colors of the blue jay at my feeder.

To realize I gain five pounds every winter as I hibernate from the cold and give myself grace because I always lose those same pounds in the spring.

To admit the truth about the aging process – it DOES happen so I need to give myself grace and not hate the changes morphing me into a visual of my ancestors. After all, each year brings me closer to heaven where age will not matter.

To realize my garden cannot look like the magazine covers, no matter how hard I work. To give myself grace and let some of the plots grow over with natural grasses and even weeds. This graceful strategy will give me more time to write, reflect and pray.

To believe that grace also leads to gracefulness – a beautiful visual of a ballerina floating across the stage. Can I float through 2017 with a new version of gracefulness, slowing down and just being myself?

In her book, “Walking on Water,” Madeleine L’Engle writes exactly what I want to embrace. “…To take time away from busyness, time to BE. To take BEING time – something we all need for our spiritual health. Slow me down, Lord. When I am constantly running, there is no time for being. When there is no time for being, there is no time for listening.”

So as I float through 2017, my goal is to show kindness, to offer courtesy and to fight for clemency – to allow for the differences among us and love in spite of them.

Hope calls me to be more grace-filled and graceful in the next twelve months. Will you join me?

©2017 RJ Thesman, Author of the Reverend G Trilogy http://amzn.to/1rXlCyh

Where Is It?

For three days, I lived on the edge of fear, hoping and praying that what I suspected was not true. I had searched through all my cabinets, even in the pantry and could not find my favorite glass measuring cup.measuring cup

Each morning, I checked through all the cabinets again. Maybe I had missed it the day before. Maybe it somehow reappeared during the night in that clandestine hide-and-seek that dishes and socks and silverware play.

No. I looked in the dishwasher. Maybe it was dirty and waiting to be washed. No. Maybe it somehow found its way to the cabinet with the smaller appliances. Was it stuck inside the blender? No. Hiding behind my son’s George Foreman grill? No.

The reason this search for the missing glass measuring cup was so important had nothing to do with the fact that this is my favorite measuring cup. I could probably replace it at Target for less than five dollars.

But this is the exact behavior that my mother exhibited when she began to struggle with symptoms of Alzheimer’s. She “lost” items around the house. She forgot which cabinets held her pots and pans. She safety-pinned her house key inside her pants whenever she left the house so that she could get in again, because her keys were easy to “lose.”

Was I beginning to see the same pattern and this time…in myself?

Please, God. Oh no, please, please.

After the third day of searching for the measuring cup and not finding it, I mentioned it to my son. “Have you seen it? Do you remember taking it out of the dishwasher and putting it somewhere?”

He helped me look through the cabinets one more time and sure enough – there it was. Hiding behind the divider on the top shelf, within the shadows where I had easily missed seeing it before.

But how did it get there? I have a particular place where I keep my measuring cups. Why was this cup in the wrong place?

I thought about Reverend G and how she misplaced a half gallon of Chunky Monkey ice cream. Instead of placing it in the freezer where it belonged, she hid it in the pantry where the “brown and white droplets of melted ice cream puddled on the floor.” http://amzn.to/11QATC1

Was I joining my own main character in the world of Alzheimer’s, putting things where they didn’t belong?

Please, God. Oh no, please, please.

Then my son fessed up. “I may have put the measuring cup in the wrong place, Mom.”

Whew! “Okay. It goes here, in this other cabinet. Next time, we’ll both know where to look for it.”

Thank you, God. Thank you, thank you.

©2014 RJ Thesman – Intermission for Reverend G – http://amzn.to/1l4oGoo

The Writer’s Good Luck Charm

Many writers have a special good luck charm that they keep in their offices or wear on their persons – anything to remind themselves to sit down and be a writer.

One greeting card writer wraps a winter scarf around his neck – even in the middle of July – to remind himself of the season he’s writing about.

Another writer has a special purple gel pen to use for book signings.

Some writers use specific chairs or make sure their desks face the rising sun. Most writers pepper their writing spaces with inspirational pictures or sayings, maybe even their special Bible verses.

During the cold, dark winters – I struggle with SAD – seasonal affective disorder. The grey skies of Kansas leak icy drizzle and once I am chilled, my bones don’t warm up until the spring thaw. I enjoy the first snow, but after that – I am ready to plant flowers and sit on a sun-warmed deck.

My creativity also suffers in the winter months, so I need my special good luck charm – especially during the months of January and February.

Mine is not a scarf nor a specific pen, but a ratty old coat that I bought about 25 years ago. It’s a dark purple color and fuzzy warm chenille-like nubs used to cover it. Many of those nubs wore off, but the coat still provides comfort. Since my office tends to be on the chilly side – that’s what happens in old houses – I need the coat not only for warmth but also to spur on the creative side of me.

With my coat on, I am Reverend G walking through the hallways of Cove Creek Assisted Living, sharing hope and encouragement with Bert, Roxie and Edith.

Underneath the frayed lining of my coat, I am a blogger who shares my heart, hoping that someone will find my words informative, encouraging and worth sharing with others.

With my old coat wrapped around me, I write a column for single moms and share my experiences with other single women who need just one word of hope.

writing in coatMy coat looks odd (see photo), and I never wear it in public (except one day when I absolutely had to make a dark chocolate run to Target). I forgot about the coat until I stood in line and noticed people staring at me. Poor thing, they probably thought, she only has that old coat to keep her warm in her old age.

Several times, I’ve wondered if I should give the coat away…but then, why? Nobody else would want it, while I find comfort wrapped in my personal good luck charm.

So I’ll keep wearing it, and I’ll keep typing out words, hoping that my creative juices will result in something good.

Wish me luck!