Archives for posts with tag: Faith

Your dance mattersWith a husband motivated to sample European cheeses and little boys itching to be outside, we found ourselves at the public market on a Saturday winding through the booths of apples and leeks and spicy pickles.

The crowd flowed by the bell peppers and the pineapples and the asparagus and eventually pooled in a small circle around a man singing and playing the guitar. A woman with red hair and bright blue leggings started to dance, her movements as wavy as her hair. Even though she drew our attention, she seemed to not need an audience. She seemed to just need to dance.

A little girl, I’m guessing about 6 years old, made her way closer to the musician. At first she swayed in her long, dark coat. Then, she danced, too. Sometimes she imitated the woman across from her, but mainly she moved her own way.

A toddler in a stroller started smiling and then waving his arms at the woman and the musician. And his mom sat next to him and tapped her feet.

Isn’t it always this way?

One brave soul begins to dance and that gives others permission to take a chance, permission to be vulnerable and share their art. One man takes to the podium and shares with the world his dream of a day when all are equal and that gives others confidence and direction.

One mother says no more to addiction and abuse and generations are changed. One co-worker pulls up a chair and tells us we can do better than this I’m-rushing-but-I-can’t-keep-up life, and we all sigh and relax our shoulders. We start to spend more time and money and grace on people.

One person issues the invitation and others, buoyed by her courage, begin to dance. It works in a group of millions, or hundreds or two because when we share – our art, our story, our truth, even our struggles – it strengthens us and our faith.

It reminds us we aren’t alone and our dance matters.

It matters among the beets and the carrots at the market. It matters at home, in the coffee shop and in the cubicle. It matters in the pews, in the studio and in the seat of the tractor.

It’s always this way. Your dance matters.

your dance matters

guidelines for faith
I’ve been driving for more years than I’d care to reveal, but it wasn’t until I moved to the great frozen north that I learned about winter parking.

By winter parking, I don’t mean the complicated calculus-like formulas that you have to use to figure out what side of the street to park on in the city. (Let’s see, on odd days that have a vowel after the third consonant, I believe I park on the south side after 2 p.m. and before 3:18 a.m.) I mean the winter parking that should be easy – the kind where you pull your car into a lot that has snow on it and park without being able to see the yellow lines.

I just had no idea how difficult that was for some people. Sure, they can battle gnarly rush hour traffic and make it to work safely day after day, but parking without lines? That, apparently, is too much to handle for some folks.

For years I’ve secretly made fun of those people, the ones I affectionately describe as line-dependent. But this winter I felt a tiny pang of guilt, followed by a thought that insisted on worming its way through my brain: What if I’m like them?

Sure, I’m a confident enough driver to figure out how far to park from someone else’s car, but there are other times – when I can’t clearly see or feel God in the way that I’m used to – that I just freeze up and don’t know what to do.

God may have walked with me through miles of troubles and mountains of grief. But the instant the snow falls and blurs my view of things, I suddenly forget how simple it is to park between the lines. I forget to have faith and to trust what I know is true.

I guess I could handle it the way I do in my car: leave enough room for others; be careful not to hinder anyone from coming or going; try to be a good neighbor; and believe that warmer days will come and the lines will still be there if I need them.

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Rachel Whaley Doll, author of Beating on the Chest of God

front onlyFriends, I believe we’ve all been touched by miscarriages and infertility. Even if we haven’t experienced it ourselves, we’ve held the hands of friends and family who have been devastated. And if we’re honest? There were times we didn’t know what to say or how to help. My brave friend Rachel Whaley Doll has opened the pages of her journal and the depths of her heart to help us all — to remind us all that God is with us. She is hosting a book launch from 4 to 6 p.m. Sunday, June 8, at A Different Path Art Gallery in Brockport, N.Y. Would you join us there and come meet Rachel? Will you share the news about this important book so others know they are not alone?

A glimpse at her beautifully honest writing…

Quite often, people are uncomfortable questioning God or admitting to being angry with God.  I’m not sure what we are afraid of, but I felt I needed to hold in all the questions and frustration, and say prayers to God that were “proper.”  It was so powerful to reach the end of my rope and literally scream at God until I was hoarse.

What I discovered is that God was still there.

In the midst of my miscarriage, I had a very vivid image of God.  I was in a waiting room, and had been there so long that the faded salmon-colored plastic chairs seemed comfortable.  There was a figure leaning against the wall wearing an overcoat, and scrunched down on the floor.  I realized it was God.  God was this regular-looking person many people walked by without ever noticing.  This figure simply sat, never looking around, never trying to reach out or help in any way, just sitting.  The picture initially added to my anger. “Get up!” I thought.  “Fix this!  Hold me while I cry!  Do something! You won’t even look at me!”

But then I noticed the pain in God’s eyes, the disheveled appearance.  God had been by my side the whole time, tired and angry, feeling my pain with me.  I reached a point where the answers to all my ‘whys’ wouldn’t even mean anything anymore.  I didn’t need a reason, I just needed help dealing with the pain.

I cannot say enough about how important my family, friends, nurses and doctors were in helping me through this time.  It was so hard to reach out at first, to tell people what was happening, but it truly made all the difference, spiritually and emotionally, for me.

If you are the friend of someone living with infertility, please hear me: we know you can’t fix this!  It is the hardest thing to sit beside someone you love and watch them suffer, unable to roll up your sleeves and come to their rescue.  But what we need more than anything is your presence.  What we need is to know that no matter what, we are not alone.  Even when we are quiet, let us know we are loved.

 

Remember my friend Tina who lost everything in a wildfire? Here’s my column about her in the Rochester (NY) Democrat and Chronicle. (Plus, those of you who have been following this story will enjoy these wedding pictures. Isn’t she gorgeous?!)

When hundreds of people you love live in one place, part of your heart is always there.

Always scanning the Internet for news. Always waiting for friends and family to check in on Facebook to say that they’ve made it through the latest tornado or storm.

This time, when wildfires spread through tens of thousands of acres in Oklahoma, a dear friend checked in with bad news.

Her family had lost everything. All that was left was a twisted piece of metal that had once been their home.

Their 80 acres of beautiful trees once sheltered squirrels and bobcats, birds and deer. But in a flash, nothing was left but charred tree trunks and the ashes that fell like snow after the fire licked up the leaves and the underbrush.

They had little warning and no insurance. She left with the flip-flops on her feet, some family pictures and her grandma’s treasured ring.

The fire took the rest. The kitchen table. The senior yearbook. The shampoo. The security of knowing where she would sleep at night.

Still, even though I could hear the smoke fresh and heavy in her lungs, she was grateful. And she was convinced that somehow this was a blessing – that their lives had been saved for a reason and for a purpose.

Sure enough, as the hours ticked by more and more pieces of her puzzle came together. A relative offered a rent house he had been renovating. A friend opened her closet and pulled out nearly new towels. Strangers delivered an antique bedroom set, clothes and gift cards.

Just a week after she’d felt the heat of the flames I heard her say, I have everything I need. From nothing to everything in seven short days.

I’ll try to remember that the next time the tears fall and my throat tightens with stress, the next time I’m feeling scared and unsure. If she can recover from a wildfire in seven days, surely my argument with my husband will be better by morning. Surely I’ll find a way to get the house cleaned in time for a party. Surely I’ll meet my deadline at work. Surely God – and his gracious people – will walk along side of me, too.

When it comes to daddies, I’d argue I had one of the best.

I have pictures of him pulling me as a toddler on a sled, of the two of us standing together the year he coached my softball team and side-by-side again at banquets, proms and graduations.

I have just as many pictures held not in my hands but in my heart: The portrait of him urging other church members to build a bigger building and promising to pay the mortgage himself if he needed to. The snapshot of him in front of his employees explaining that the company was downsizing but not to worry because he had found each of them jobs at nearby businesses.

And then, there’s the uncomfortable picture of Daddy confronting our minister. It seems the minister didn’t like a visitor who stopped by church, so he refused to shake hands with him. That didn’t go over well with Daddy who believed God loves everyone.

At the peak of his career, the oil business in Oklahoma came to a near halt and other industries began to crumble. While others wringed their hands, Daddy was busy shaking hands with new opportunities. “Always be different, sis,” he’d say. “Always be different.”

The only thing that ever seemed to worry him was that something might happen to one of us three girls or to Mama. “They’d have to put me in the loony bin if I ever lost one of you,” he’d say.

I think that’s why he went first, before any of us. It has been 10 years since his heart gave out on him, and for a while, it felt like my heart stopped beating, too.

That same minister who wouldn’t shake hands preached at Daddy’s funeral. When former employees were asked to be pallbearers, they said it would be an honor. Other people literally packed the hallway and spilled out into the parking lot. Cars lined up for more than a mile to escort Daddy to the cemetery.

Person after person told us what a difference Daddy had made in their lives, what joy and inspiration he had brought into every situation.

He was different, that daddy of mine. Different in all the right ways.

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