Tag Archives: emotional

What color is your world?

When I was young, my Uncle Harry (after whom I am named) came to live with us because he had lost his greenhouse nursery business. He stayed with us quite a while and as a gift for our family’s kindness, he left behind a black and white television set. It was the first television we had.

Black and white television depended on shades of gray to create contrast. We fooled ourselves into believing that we could tell the colors that should have been there by the particular shade of gray. Whether or not we guessed the color correctly didn’t really matter, as we painted the grayscale picture in our mind.

Like today, there was an annual showing of the Wizard of Oz. I did not know until years later that the dream sequence of the film was in color. That Zenith TV my uncle left us lasted a very long time.

There are some people who live in black and white only, others in grayscale and still others in technicolor. Of course, all of us have episodes of all three. Those that live in strictly black and white have a very hardened set of rules which establish right from wrong. Basically, anything that isn’t right must be wrong. That’s it – no argument. They write the script for the rest of the world to follow and become upset if they don’t, despite the fact that the rest of the world had no opportunity or desire to follow their script in the first place. So, they spend much of their time being consumed by the world’s inconsideration of their beliefs.

There are others that live in grayscale. They have a defined concept of right and wrong but know that there are motives, reasons and situations that create circumstances that dilute the rigidness of those concepts, hoping that grace will provide trails to the right path. The gray in their lives comes from wishing for better and playing the ‘if only’ game. I would be happy, if only I were married. I would be happy, if only I got a raise. I would be happy, if only I had another job. I would be happy, if only I had lots of money. Instead of looking at what they already have and the relationships around them, they always see what they are doing without or things they don’t or cannot have. They miss out on the joys of life.

Then there are those that live in technicolor. They know that the world is full of wonder and mystery. They want to see the colors of the orient. They want to hear the music of the African plains. They want to feel the tropical breezes. Creation is alive and vibrant, pulsing with color: to be experienced by all of our senses. They have defined concepts of right and wrong but understand that many cultures exist. That backgrounds and experiences shape the lives of each one of us – that grace belongs to all of us; that love and God are not limited; and beyond our full comprehension. They understand that two people can listen to the same music and be moved differently. They accept the diversity as the wonderful mystery of God and creation.

Now everyone has episodes of all three of these examples. Like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, her dream world was vibrant, beautiful, and at times a little scary. As exciting as it was, she was still tied to a place called home. Her relationships were important. She had tasted the Technicolor life, and it is my hope it remained an important part of her psyche.

I try very much to live a technicolor life, but I admit, I sometimes fall into the grayscale (probably more than I would like to admit). Each morning, when I wake up on the right side of the grass, I am thankful and blessed – anything beyond that is a gift. I wish to continue to see all these little gifts as blessings, trials as lessons that give me insight and strength, and relationships that promote love and understanding. My world is full of color and you shine brightly. You can be a gift to the world no matter how you see it through your own eyes. The reality might be gray, but that does not mean you can’t live a technicolor life.

Take care, be well, and be blessed.

Changes, Changes, Changes

We are all faced with changes, little changes almost daily, but sometimes we are faced with major changes. Changes in the major area of our lives, such as employment, residence, relationships, and health, can cause much stress and even joy. All changes cause us some stress, both good and bad. Not all stress is bad. Stress is what can give us the ambition to move forward, to conquer the challenge in front of us. Stress can also wear us down and, if we aren’t careful, can defeat us.

   Like everyone else, I have had significant changes in my life. Joining the Army was a great thing for me. When I first experienced basic training, it was a shock to my system, a cultural shock. I survived. There was a time I wanted to give up, but I was forced to muddle through. I had to find the courage to get through the technical brainwashing of tearing a person down and then building that person back up in the form of a soldier. Sure, that sounds terrible at first, but I am the better for it.

   Then there was the transition of moving from a structured life of the Army back to the civilian life. You see, the soldiers have to give up the rights that civilians enjoy in order to protect those very rights for others. When I entered the Army, I don’t think I really appreciated the freedoms and privileges that I had. When I came out, I knew just how important, just how bloody important, those rights and privileges were, paid for by the sweat, life and blood of soldiers long before I had the honor to serve.

   The next change was marriage. I married a wonderful girl from Upstate NY, as this was the place of my final assignment in the Army. Another big change came when my oldest son was born on my 26th birthday. Oh, what a wonderful birthday present! Married life was hard. Relationships are hard work. I know that I didn’t get it all right, but I did my best to support my wife and children. It is my opinion that I had a good marriage that ended badly. I will be forever grateful to my loving wife who spent her time and energy to that most noble profession of wife and mother. I will always love her.

   Another change that affected me very deeply was the final days of my father’s life. You can read all of that in my blogs concerning Lessons from Death.

   Now, I am faced with many, many changes. I pray fervently for direction and that God reveals his will to me. This is all happening close together. My challenges are:

  • Employment: After a reorganization at my  workplace, I kept my job but the responsibilities have increased and changed. I am still trying to sort out priorities and procedures that will lead to daily success in my job.
  • Residence: I plan to move to another town, leaving my home to my son and his new bride. I will miss my home of 12 years. I just love my kitchen and master bathroom. But I look forward to experiencing a new chapter of home, building memories and comfortable, loving surroundings.
  • Relationships: I am moving from romance toward a marriage-minded romantic situation based on Proverbs 31. As well as working to stay connected to my, now married, son. My other son is still with me. I recently experienced the death of a loved one, who I often think of and I miss her.
  • Health: I am dealing with the ever-growing pain of arthritis and inflammation, and the daily stiffness and challenges that come with controlling chronic pain.
  • Financially: I have willingly increased my financial burdens by promising to help my sons, my girlfriend, and my favorite charities even more than before and also increase the amount that I pay towards debt.
  • Spiritually: My prayer life has increased with the diverse changes and stresses that are presented everyday. Luckily, someone who loves me dearly, reminds me of my own words to look on the bright side and trust in God.

But, alas, I will survive. These changes are temporary, character building and more of life’s adventures. I know that all of this will turn out for the best. I trust God to guide my course to love, happiness and fulfillment.

   I found a song by Rebelution called Courage to Grow. I thought I would share it here. I hope you enjoy it. My best to all my readers. May you all be blessed with love and abundance. Take care, stay well and be safe.

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Another Chance, A New Beginning

   The Holy Days of Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday are fast approaching. These days are a fulfillment of promises made in the Bible.

   Good Friday acknowledges that Jesus is our redeemer. I know as a father, if I were presented with a situation where the choice was between my son’s or my life, I would gladly offer mine. I love him that much! I know that Jesus loves me just as much. That is why He took my place on the cross and gave His life for me so that I could have access to heaven and be with Him.

   Resurrection Sunday represents Jesus’ victory over death. A demonstration that death is not just an end but marks a new beginning in a glorified state. His appearance after His death reassures us that this gift is real.

   The redemption afforded us should remind us that God is patient. God waits for us to come to Him. God is always ready to forgive, all we need to do is ask. You and I will always have another chance. Jesus lived as a man so that He could redeem us and have a first hand experience of temptation and pain. Jesus lived for me and He died for me and then conquered death for me. What an amazing gift He gave to me, one that I do not wish to squander.

   Every morning, every moment can be a new beginning. Blessings abound and if we have the positive mindset and the right heart, we can view the world and see that the blessings are apparent. Jesus’ pain and suffering is a blessing, Many of us know that it is in our own brokenness that we find God and the inner strength that God gives us and oftentimes we don’t even know that we have. When all seems lost, we find God to lean on. God just isn’t there during our trials, but God is also there in our triumphs.

   You can have another chance, a new beginning and so can I. Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday remind us each year of the love that God has for us.

   I hope you will take time to contemplate what Jesus did for us. I hope you take into account all the blessings you have received and will receive. I hope that you will find solace in the love that surrounds you.

   Take care, stay well and be safe.

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A P.L.A.C.E in My Heart

   When someone is precious to you, they have a P.L.A.C.E. in your heart; Protect them, Love them, Appreciate them, Care for them, Emotional support. This P.L.A.C.E. is much like home. Home is a place where you feel comfortable and safe. That P.L.A.C.E. is in the presence of someone special. It is easy to consider a physical place a home, but is it really? A physical place without warmth, without memories, without love is just an address, a building, a temporary structure.

   You know instinctively when you are home with someone. You feel safe and warm. You know that you can be yourself. You know that you are in a safe relationship with that person. You miss being in their presence when one of you has to be away.

   Even if you provide a P.L.A.C.E. for someone, there is no guarantee that your love and support will be returned, but that doesn’t mean that you refuse to give it. I am not suggesting that you expose yourself to an unsafe situation, but you can still let them know that you love and care about them and want what is best for them, despite their best efforts to avoid joy.

   Protect them: You cannot change a person, but you can care about them. You can guide them to a path that might be better for them. You provide counsel and direction with love and tenderness. You can ensure that they are safe. You can provide loving services like: making sure their car is in good order; provide nutritious foods; accompany them on outings where they might feel nervous; and prevent them from making mistakes with money.

   Love them: Love them unconditionally. Allow them to know that they are loved no matter what they might do, not that you will condone what they do, but that you will love, guide and support them. Don’t expect perfection but do expect them to do their best.

   Appreciate them: All of us need to feel valued and appreciated. No one likes to feel as though they are being taken for granted. There is good in everyone and we need to continually look for that good, appreciate it and reward good behavior.

   Care for them: Show interest in their well-being, physically, financially, spiritually, mentally and emotionally. Commit random acts of kindness that demonstrate your love and appreciation for them. Always let them know that you care for and love them, that you will be available for them.

   Emotional Support: Unconditional love allows a person to feel safe with you. They can cry, laugh, giggle, and blush without feeling embarrassed or afraid because they know that they are loved and accepted.

   Have you provided a P.L.A.C.E. in your heart for others? Do you have a P.L.A.C.E. in someone’s heart? I hope so. I hope that when you are in that P.L.A.C.E., you feel as if you are home.  God will always have a P.L.A.C.E. in His heart for you. My wish is that you will find a home in Him.

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A Glimpse of a Butterfly

   In this garden we call earth, we get to view beauty and splendor: the greenery of vegetation; the soft petals of flowers; the tapestry of a sunset sky; the patterned randomness of the clouds; the awe of the butterfly. Sometimes we get just a glimpse, sometimes a long look at a butterfly, which chances to come into our view. We behold the wonderment and beauty of its patterns and colors. We look in amazement to how delicate the wings are but yet strong enough to flutter the butterfly away. Then, without warning, the butterfly takes flight and leaves our view. We close our eyes and try to capture the image in our mind’s eye. We attempt to catalog the beauty into that space where we keep precious memories.

   This is how I feel about the funeral viewing of someone you love. It is your last chance to glimpse the beauty and wonderment of the body that represented someone’s life. I wrote and said the following prayer for the children of my Butterfly. I hope that it brought them comfort. I hope that it will bring comfort to you as well.

Viewing Prayer, Laura A. VerDow Santelli, 10/06/1957 – 2/20/2010

LORD*, we come to You now through Your Son, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit.

  Before us is the body of Your loving daughter, Laura, my Butterfly, Mom – now and always to these beloved children.  Her body is here for us to mourn, but we know that her soul is alive and dwelling with You.  We are comforted to know that she is no longer suffering, that she is at peace and present in Your Glory.

LORD, I raise these children, Jenn & Chris, up to You.  Comfort them through their grief.  Like others, they will miss their mother dearly.  Their mother was such a large part of their lives.  Help them care for each other and see each other through their life struggles.  Watch over them.  Protect them.  Fill their hearts with the knowledge of Your love and that of their mother.  Let them know the kind of love that never fades.

The apostles asked Jesus when He would return.  He said, “In a little while.” That was over 2,000 years ago.  In that light, we are here but a brief time.  So, Mom, your wait will be short.  Soon, we will be with your loving heart once again.

Thank you, LORD, for blessing these children with such a loving mother.  Thank You for placing her in my life.  Take care of her and love her.  We love her and miss her.  Have mercy on us and keep us strong.

In the name of Your Son, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit, we pray these things.

Amen

 *The original prayer used Jehovah, one of the many names of God.

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Lessons from Death – Part Three

If you missed Part One you can find it here Lessons from Death – Part One

   The sudden request from my father to move in with us caught me off guard. He was to be released from the rehabilitation center two days after he asked to live with me. My sister packed some of his things. She put together his finances so that I could take those with me. He had only been to Upstate NY once before. He always thought it was too far to drive. Somehow, it was much closer for me to drive to Maryland with my car packed with luggage, wife, and kids. In his mind, I’m sure I did live closer to him than he did to me.

   He enjoyed the trip. I believe he saw it as a new adventure. He seemed more energetic and excited as we drew near to our destination. After an eight-hour ride, we arrived at my home, a home my father had never seen before. He seemed pleased with his new surroundings. The very next day he was planning to turn my back yard into a garden. I had to explain to him that the park that I live in had certain restrictions concerning gardens. I told him that I would think of something.

   My father loved western shows and movies. Luckily, our cable company had a channel dedicated to such a genre. The livingroom TV was set to that station for him. He never did get the hang of the remote. I went to the library and signed out large print books for him to read. I spent most of my time that week preparing our livingroom to be a proper place for my father to stay. He had much more energy than I had expected. His spirits were greatly lifted. He begged to help with the cooking. I was very pleased to witness what I thought was a recovery. I assembled a team of doctors for his care.

   A newsletter was designed and published so that it could be sent to his friends (they weren’t all dead afterall) and family so everyone could be informed as to his progress. A new edition of the newsletter went out every two or three weeks. I purchased an amplified phone so that loved ones could call. He was very hard of hearing and did not have much luck with those “fangled” hearing aids.

   He did surprisingly well until Spring, his favorite time of year. That is when the planting begins. He had supported himself with a cane, but the cane no longer proved sufficient. We borrowed a wheelchair for him. He was so disappointed. He wanted to be in the garden, any garden. My neighbor told me about square foot gardening as an alternative. It was a great idea. Then God improved on the idea – He inspired me to think garden tables! Take the square foot garden idea and elevate it to a level that would accept a wheelchair. My father was so happy. He brightened up again. He was just like a child with a brand new toy.

   He didn’t see much of the harvest from those tables. He grew ever tired and more ill shortly after working on the garden tables. I realize now that his excitement and energy was much like a bulb that burns ever brighter before going dim. His illness finally caught up with him. Soon he would have his last ride in an ambulance.

   Doing all this for my Dad was a wonderful task and a loving struggle. The most profound lesson I learned from this is that you don’t help people die, you help them live until they just can’t live any more.

   The next contribution will explore his last days and the incredible preciousness of life and letting go. Until next time, take care, stay well and be safe.

Follow this link to Lessons from Death – Part Four

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Lessons from Death – Part One

Even from the time I was young, I have been familiar with death. My father was a tenant farmer and a factory worker. His factory work left many of the farm chores to my siblings and me. I had an opportunity to see the cycle of life repeatedly. I understood that death was natural. We raised animals for market and for food. The striving for survival is an incredible urge. When a sow gives birth, we marketed the piglets after a short while, which caused the sow to stress and urge her to gestate.

Unlike what I learned to feel about farm animals, the loss of a loved one is an incredibly emotional event. We read about people dying everyday and if we have no close attachment, it affects us differently. My mother passed away in 1994. She suffered a very sudden death, like the kind that everyone wishes to experience.

I had a difficult time accepting that she was gone. It didn’t become real to me until the funeral. I finally allowed my emotions to surface and I sobbed at the loss. I was taught that boys don’t cry, that displaying emotion is a sign of weakness. I cannot agree. Being afraid to show emotion comes from a place of fear and shame. Acknowledging your feelings is reflective and comes from a place of strength and acceptance. If you don’t acknowledge such strong emotions then they will manifest in other ways, usually in negative ways or in ways that make it difficult to move forward.

Accepting my mother’s death allowed me to see life as more precious and finite. The idea of mortality is one we don’t want to entertain, especially our own. Youth is reckless as they envision themselves immortal creatures. They really don’t understand that they can die. Dying is something that others do.

Take care, stay well and be safe

Follow this link to Lessons from Death – Part Two

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