Learning to accept help is learning to be humble

help

Big are small, heavy or light, we carry the load alone. We are proud Do-It-Yourself-ers. No help needed, thanks.

People have been quick to offer a hand. They see my hands full and the call comes out, “Need some help?” No, I’ve got it, was my typical reply. I was the boss. I could carry my load too. That’s what I thought I was showing. I thought I was letting them know I wasn’t too big, too proud, too full of myself that I couldn’t carry a few things or move something.

I grew up with strong women and other than a bug squashing here and there and gutting fish, we could do things ourselves. There’s not much harder than giving birth, so trust me, I’ve got this.

Until the day my son saw me decline the offer of help to carry things that were clearly awkward to manage. Mom, you need to let them help. They want to.

I’ve learned to accept help with the physical things. I acknowledge my limitations as I recognize the need to allow others to help.

But I still resist asking for help with the deeper things. The things below the surface that others don’t see. The battle with depression and mood swings. The negative self talk. The trap of comparison. Those things are the heavier burdens to bear.

The Beatles had it right when they sang:

Help! I need somebody
Help! Not just anybody

I need the help of Jesus. I need to recognize he often chooses the most unlikely to be my help.

Humility comes in the bended knee, the silent prayers and the acceptance of help.

“When you do something for someone else, don’t call attention to yourself. You’ve seen them in action, I’m sure—‘playactors’ I call them—treating prayer meeting and street corner alike as a stage, acting compassionate as long as someone is watching, playing to the crowds. They get applause, true, but that’s all they get. When you help someone out, don’t think about how it looks. Just do it—quietly and unobtrusively. That is the way your God, who conceived you in love, working behind the scenes, helps you out.” Matthew 6:2-4 the Message

Linking up with Five-Minute Friday host, Kate Motaung, as she gives the word and we go. Join us!

On this beautiful summer day, I will not lose hope

I suppose summer isn’t the time to talk of the hollowness of grief. These are the days of long sunshine inviting us to play a little longer. These are the times of family reunions and seeing new places. These are not the days to be met with grief. But grief doesn’t wait for an invitation.

Alia Joy’s words met me early this morning. They stirred the grief I thought had been quieted. She spoke of her father’s last moments and how he’d lost his appetite and that was the connection to my mom’s recent passing. That was what the nurses had informed my sister, “Your mom hasn’t eaten the last day or two.” That was all. An alert of a change.

We didn’t know that could be a signal for her death to follow so quickly. Mama’s communication was limited by the Alzheimer’s. When she spoke it was word salad, words thrown together but not connected to meaning.

Maybe it was Alia’s writing or maybe it was the one we lost to overdose yesterday. Snatched from our community by the addiction he was fighting. One day he was hitting home runs on our softball team and two days later he’s gone.

He was young enough to be mama’s grandson and while they never knew each other I saw the hunger both had for life. Both lives taken from unwelcome diseases.

summer

My heart is sad on this summer day when the sun broke through lighting the sky to its clear blue canvas. A sadness that reminds me I’m alive with emotion and feeling and that is good. To feel is good, even to feel grief. I’ve numbed enough in my life and I’ve decided to feel it. To live it.

summer

Sunday

How do we live a life of joy in the face of death and sorrow? That will be today’s task as we face the men in our residential center who lived with this young man. They will be thinking how easily it could have been them and why wasn’t it them, why was it him? And what will we say?

I will say I don’t know why. I don’t know why their life has been spared again and again. Just as I don’t know why mama’s was taken from us long before her physical death. There is so much I can’t answer.

I will not spout platitudes or scripture verses out of context. I will not pretend that life is easy and we have all the answers. Because on this brilliantly beautiful summer day, death robs us from friendship again.

But I will not lose hope. I will not allow death to steal from me a hope in a God who, in the face of unanswered questions, has never failed to love us.

When will I stop asking when?

When do we need to leave?

When do you get the test results?

When are you going to change?

When am I going to change?

And Van Morrison sings the words, “when will I ever learn to trust in God?”

trust God

The numbers on the clock seem to creep at an agonizingly slow pace when we ask, when?

“When we’ve been there 10,000 years, bright shining as the sun, we’ve no less days to sing God’s praise than when we first begun.”

That’s his favorite verse of the old hymn we sing every week at the close of our community worship.

It’s a progression like those good old hymns are. Our theology set to music and the words we sing as a sending out of these men who have asked, “when will I stop the cycle of addiction, of abuse? When will I learn to trust, to believe, to love?

The first line of the hymn reminds us of this amazing grace that makes the blind see in that metaphorical way. Make us see, Lord, make us see your love for us.

We sing on and the pause comes, the pause before the last verse when he says, “This is my favorite verse. I want to see you there, singing into eternity, singing praise to God.”

When we see God, when we acknowledge his presence and claim that He Is God, when we love him and accept his love for us… when can be now.

This is an adaptation  from an earlier post that first appeared on this blog in 2015.

What if we create space to be kind to ourselves?

I’ve lived with the notion that create meant to be original. To draw something no one had ever drawn, that was made up completely in my mind. I thought create meant dreaming these wild and free images with words or paint but I’m not a wild and free dreamer. I’m not much of a dreamer at all.

Maybe it was from seeing the women in my life work with their hands. Maybe it was seeing mama taking the knitting classes or Granny with crochet hook in hand. Both women were good with the needle and thread.

Or was it from flipping the pages of magazines or standing in museums that I go the notion that to create meant big and unique. One thing I knew, I wasn’t creative. No, I could copy someone else, but I wasn’t creative.

Mama, in her quiet way, would praise my work. She was careful about praise but she hung my drawings on her wall and encouraged me to learn more, create more. I talked to her about my lack of originality, yet it didn’t seem to matter to her.

create

continuing our family art heritage with the granddaughter

create

create watercolor

My Facebook page needed some retooling. I needed to come up with a description for who I am. Writer? Photographer? Artist? All of those things are true, no matter how much I minimize their value and maximize my limitation.

After playing with this word and that, I settled on the descriptive word, create. Debby Hudson: Creative

Yikes!

I try to be a kind person. I open doors for people, smile, say please and thank you, but I’m not kind to myself. I fuss over missing the better shot with my camera or not using one shade of paint instead of the other. I especially berate myself for not being able to come up with my own ideas. I feel less than because I get inspiration from others. Arrogant? Maybe. Pitiful? Absolutely!

The bible tells us there’s nothing new under the sun. Nothing. God is the only one who has and can create something from nothing. He has created each of us in His image, an image that is kind and loving, even to ourselves.

Sometimes we have to do the hard things. Like being kind to ourselves. This is that place. Grace is that space.

Linking up with Kate Motaung and flash mob of bloggers for a weekly free-writing frenzy called Five-Minute Friday. Join us.

This Little Girl Was My Hero for the Day

She looked to be 8 years old. Her long brown hair fell in wet strings around and in her face. She had no time to push it aside. She carried a skim board that looked to be more than half her size.

She looked ahead at the rolling waves, judging the time to throw her board on the water’s surface followed by a quick belly land on the board.

in the water

in the water

in the water

The Saturday surf class filled the ocean with boards and bodies, most of them tweens and teens. She sifted her way through the crowds going for the next wave. She was undaunted by age or experience. She was my hero that day.

I was drawn to her adventure. I was inspired by the lure of excitement in her eyes and cheered her on silently. I celebrated from the shore when I saw her face break out into a huge smile as the salt water splashed over her. She caught the wave she was after. Her size didn’t hold her back. Nothing kept her from experiencing the joy she set out to find.

skim board hero

girl with skim board

big smile

girl hero

Catching the surfing class or the boys who skim across the edge of the water are my favorites to watch. Their energy glides across the surface infusing me with a shared moment of fun. Their youth reminds me of my own, when life seemed to be waiting for me.

Our part of the ocean doesn’t produce big waves. Some days the surface is as smooth as glass. These days, they practice their balance and it reminds me of the off kilter days I have. These days are an opportunity to practice my balance but I forget it’s about practice. I forget the patience needed to realize the goal.

I imagine standing on a surfboard with my arms flying out trying to steady myself as the water moves under the board. Surely it would be more fun than balancing on one foot with dumbbells in hand in our garage. At least the scenery is prettier.

Sometimes I have my camera focused on the surfers waiting for the next wave. I don’t have their patience so I move on to the action. Another lesson they are trying to teach me that I’ve not learned.

girls holding board

girls holding board

The little girl has moved from the ocean to the sand and is hitting a volleyball back and forth with a woman. I forget how tireless 8 year olds can be. But I don’t think I’ll ever forget how much they can teach us.

Patience. Enthusiasm. Perseverance. Joy in life’s little pleasures. Excitement for life. She is not working for a prize. There is no one to announce her name and no podium for her to stand on. The only award she will receive is the one she wears on her face: joy.

Yes, she is my hero, pushing on through the crowds of older kids, making her way in her youth and inexperience. She is meeting the waves face on and she is laughing all the way.

Jesus called over a little child. He put His hand on the top of the child’s head.
Jesus: This is the truth: unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. In that kingdom, the most humble who are most like this child are the greatest.  And whoever welcomes a child, welcomes her in My name, welcomes Me. Matthew 18:2-5 the VOICE

How to Fight Against the Urge to Go Under

The past few weeks have been hard for our country. The question of ‘how many times’ continues to be asked as our flag is lowered to half mast again.

I had planned to write happy summery posts about the beach and living life lighter in the months when the sun wants to play longer. But my heart can’t ignore the mourning of more tragedies, more violence, more questions and few answers. At times, it feels like we’re all going under, being swept up in the tumult of violence and hate.

Yesterday my husband said we need another Gandi. ‘What did he do?’, I replied in a voice not meant to question but in the tone of skepticism. A tone that meant, “really?” We know he was a man of peace. We’ve read his quotes but they seem to be no more than words falling flat on the page, one dimensional and still.

E.Roosevelt peace quote

We’ve had Gandi and Mother Teresa and Martin Luther King, Jr. We’ve heard the words of Nelson Mandela. We’ve even had Jesus Christ. These people who lived the words they spoke.  Their lives spoke louder than any speech or book. The lead peaceful marches and advocated turning the other cheek. They condemned violence of any kind, toward anyone.

There has always been someone in our time to live an example of peace to us. Yet, this undertow of fear pulls us under. Fear and hate and some days they are the same.

Fear barricades our minds and hardens our hearts. Fear keeps our minds closed and hands clinched in fists. Fear turns to hate when confronted with change, with differences, with our ignorance.

fight

love your enemies Matt. 5

This is where we fight. Not against each other, but against the urge to fear, against the urge to be drawn under by hate. This is where we live out the words we say, the words that have echoed through generations. This is where the fight looks like acceptance and hope and grace.

How many of us will it take to fight the currents of fear and hate? It will take more than laws and politics and sermons. It will take changed hearts.

overcome the world John 16_33

What Kind of Life Do You Want to Build Today?

Our son is a project manager for a home construction company. They build custom homes from the ground up. He oversees the work crews and meets with the home owners to ensure their satisfaction. Details matter. Precision matters. The foundation must be sure.

I woke to the news of another story of violence. It’s been a week like that. Men killing men out of fear? Hate? It seems our country’s foundation is crumbling and I wonder what kind of life do we want to build?

build

build

These homes our son’s company builds can be described as luxury homes. They are 4000 square  feet and more. A lot more. They have walk-in closets as big as our bedrooms and landscaping costing more than some of the tiny homes we see today.

From the spacious to the tiny we build our homes with deliberation and planning. But are we building our lives with the same kind of care? What is the foundation on which we are building?

I want to build a life of kindness and grace. I want to know peace in times of turmoil. I want a foundation of “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control”.

I want a life built on a hope that is sure, a hope that is in God and God alone.  The Psalmist writes:

My life is no longer than my hand! My whole lifetime is but a moment to you. Proud man! Frail as breath! A shadow! And all his busy rushing ends in nothing. He heaps up riches for someone else to spend. 7 And so, Lord, my only hope is in you. Psalm 39:6-8 Living Bible

I thought this prompt would go another direction. I thought I’d write about building sand castles but, again, our foundation has been shaken by violence. I fight hard to cling to my foundation of hope. I have to build on to this foundation everyday.

My hope is built on nothing less
than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
Chorus:
On Christ the solid rock I stand,
all other ground is sinking sand;
all other ground is sinking sand.

Linking up with Kate Motaung for the weekly Five-Minute Friday free writing prompt. 

I Love My Country but My Hope is in God

flags

Things seem crazy these days. We’re in a political season unlike any other I’ve seen. Our country feels fractured and at odds with ourselves. People are yelling and name calling and justifying and being flat out rude and those are the politicians!

But this is my country and, as the song goes, land that I love. It’s the only country I know as home and maybe I’m clinging to the familiar but I think we’ve gotten a lot of things right.

I love this time of year when the flags are out on display. I like seeing the light shine through the red and white stripes and the wind give a curl to the edges.

freedom country

I stand when we sing the National Anthem and believe that we are the land of the free and home of the brave. But my hope is in a greater promise of freedom. Politicians will make empty promises this year like they have every election year. The government will let us down because we’re the government and we’re imperfect and broken people.

My hope is on the eternal promises of God.

His promise to give us a hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11
His promise is not for the easy way but the best way. 1 Timothy 4:9-11
His promise to be with us in the storms as he is with us in sun. Deuteronomy 31:6

Hear my cry, O God;
give heed to my prayer.
From the ends of the earth I call to Thee,
when my heart is faint;
lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
For Thou hast been a refuge for me,
And a tower of strength against the enemy.
And let me dwell in Thy tent forever.
adapted from Psalm 61:1-3 performed by 2nd Chapter of Acts

 

When One Preschooler Throws a Popsicle Festival

We live in a neighborhood where the ministry of popsicles is alive and well. Most evenings, when the sun isn’t quite as hot or high, a little bicycle gang emerges and our cul-de-sac is filled with pedals and scooters and wild kids. They run until a knee is scraped and then someone brings out the healing power of frozen juice. We sit under a tree cooling off and recovering.

A Popsicle Festival
Bea wanted to buy popsicles for the neighborhood and have a “festival.” She planned where we would put the picnic blanket and even moved rocks to the corners so it would stay put. We went to the store and bought a big box of Pushup frozen fruit pops.

While kids are out most days, there are some in which Bea rides alone. I explained that it’s great to throw impromptu celebrations but we also need to be prepared for the possibility that our buddies have other plans – that they might not know we have a festival planned.

Bea nodded but the excitement for her party was apparent. After naptime, I tried to stall her with promises of extra screen time, coloring together, anything to wait a few more minutes to be absolutely certain the other kids would be out.

We went outside and waited. And waited. Bea wondered where they could be. Why weren’t they coming to her festival? She rode slowly around the cul-de-sac, making up songs, eagerly watching front doors. I had mentioned the possibility to a couple parents, but plans aren’t firm during this summer witching hour and I didn’t want to make our little festival too big a deal.

popsicles

Finally, it was obvious we were it. Bea was clearly disappointed and you could see all the feelings on her face as she tried to process this failed party. We ate our popsicles, the two of us, and I reminded her that since we bought such a big box, we’d have plenty for other days.

We moved to the backyard where I hoped a change of scenery would lift the mood, but the smallest of setbacks threw Bea into a tailspin. An early evening bath, books, and more processing set things back on track.

The next day we were outside again for an early morning ride. A grandma and I were chatting over coffee about this disappointment and, since she had her grandkids all day, promised that a popsicle festival would happen that afternoon.

Sure enough, after naptime, kids were out, a knee was scraped, and this time it was Bea who got to offer the healing miracle of an icy treat. All was restored and it was as though the previous day hadn’t happened.

Even though it was a small disappointment and quickly forgotten, in the moment my heart broke for my sweet little girl. My mind flashed forward to all the disappointments that a popsicle won’t be able to fix – friendships and school and things totally out of my control. It made me glad for these moments, the ones that can be fixed with a picnic blanket, a sweet treat, and a fresh start the next day.

This experience also gave me a glimpse of the person I hope Bea continues to grow into – one who is excited to bring the neighborhood together, who gathers community around and understands the value of food as a creator of friendships. And who always has a supply of popsicles on hand, since you never know when a festival will happen.

Annie Rim

Annie lives in Colorado where she plays with her daughters, hikes with her husband, teaches at an art museum, is part of a longtime book club, and reflects about life & faith on her blog: annierim.wordpress.com. You can connect with her on Twitter & Instagram.

How to Cultivate the Best Fruit

fruit

I’ve been making blueberry muffins and he’s been cooking up blueberry pancakes. I’ve added fresh blueberries to my morning yogurt and sprinkling a few on top of my spinach salad.

When it’s not blueberries, it’s strawberries or both on the salad. It’s summer and the fruits are plentiful and priced right. Apples and bananas are staples in our house year ’round but summer expands our choices.

orchard sign

pears

fruit sign

Because I have family on the west coast, we’ve seen the rows and rows of fruit trees. This high desert area a couple of hours east of Seattle looks brown and dry in the summer but is full of orchards. Due to irrigation, it’s a giant fruit basket for our country. Summer visits to mama usually had a bowl full of dark red Bing cherries sitting on the table or homemade ice cream served over warm peach cobbler. Is your mouth watering yet?

fruit

There are no roadside fruit stands in our area. Oranges are grown more in central Florida, a few hours north, though we had an orange and lemon tree in the backyard of our first house. The oranges were full of seeds but were good for fresh squeezed orange juice.

On a road trip many years ago, we stopped at a fruit stand in some tiny town in Texas where we discovered the sweetest peaches. And we thought Georgia was the only place to get good peaches 😉

While we’re enjoying the summer bounty of fruit, I’m  reminded of what the bible calls the fruits of the Spirit. The apostle Paul was talking about spiritual gifts that are given to those who follow Jesus. These gifts should be as evident as the sweet taste of fruit.

Paul talks about what a life lived in the flesh produces: the bitterness of jealousy, hatred and anger among other selfish desires. Now, Paul is talking about the sweetness that should be seen in our lives. He’s reminding us that we are people walking with and guided by the Holy Spirit and this Spirit produces unconditional love, joy, peace. patience, kindheartedness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness, and self-control. Galatians 5: 22-25

How do we cultivate this kind of fruit?
“This will happen when we set aside our self-interests and work together to create true community instead of a culture consumed by provocation, pride, and envy.” verse 26

Linking up with Holley Gerth and Coffee for Your Heart