Saturday, January 23, 2021

From the Heart

I've been deep in thought the past few days. That's not anything new, the older I get the more my mind races. I don't view it as a bad thing though, I view it as wisdom. *grin*  I don't typically share my thoughts and feelings with the world though. That's typically saved for the people closest to me. I believe that's healthy.  At the same time, this past week I commented on a post and wound up with a lot of questions. I had avoided throwing my thoughts and feelings into the controversial arenas. However, I did open the door in my comment so I wanted to share from the heart tonight. If you disagree, that's fine, but rude comments will be removed.  

In the past year, I think the biggest lesson I've learned is that it's okay to disagree with someone and still be friends. Don't get me wrong, I knew that beforehand but in the past year I have seen a lot of people on social media with a lot of different perspectives. Prior to the pandemic season I could keep scrolling very easily. Then the pandemic hit.

The pandemic opened the door for a lot of people to be divided for various reasons that aren't the focus point of this post. (See, I am still trying to be responsible with my voice on social media) My heart broke for America as a whole because the pandemic brought out sides of people I had never seen before on social media in a negative way. I'll admit, I have struggled with a lot of the misinformation versus facts more than anything. Which led me to my comment the other night on my own post.  Let me explain...

So I posted "Happy Inauguration Day" on social media. While I knew that not everyone in my social media world would agree, I really hadn't had a lot of push back. Until Wednesday. I knew I didn't agree with everyone, but I always want to be fair and respectful to everyone no matter what. 

In my mind, Kindness ALWAYS matters. *grin*

So the big "abortion" topic came up on my Inauguration Day post comment thread. I have not made my thoughts on that topic public. Partly because my view isn't what most people have, but also because I simply think that we're all entitled to our own opinion. That's actually been my thinking on all controversial topics. I know people who have fought tooth and nail on some topics. I am not that kind of gal. I simply want to love God and His Kids. 

So, you may be thinking, what is your stand on abortion? The short answer is that I don't think it's a simple fix. Do I want babies dead? Of course not! But I also have this HUGE heart for people already here. Meaning, my heart leaps for a Mom who doesn't feel she has no other option with an unexpected pregnancy. I can't even imagine that situation. 

I've known people who have had an abortion and I know people who have given a child up for adoption. Both situations are HARD, with a lot of emotions involved. There is SO MUCH MORE behind that decision that banning it won't solve the issue. See why I kept my views to myself? *grin* It's simply a complicated issue. *grin*

I could go more into the depth of my thoughts and feelings, but that's not the point of this post. The point is that it's okay to talk about the issues. It's okay to share perspectives and thoughts. It CAN be done in a respectful manner and actually bring people together when it's done right. *grin* 

So, yeah, if you want to share a virtual cup of coffee (because I'm not going very many places these days) and talk about these issues, I'm happy to do so. I warn you though, I don't intend to fight over the issues. I mean, my life will go on if we don't agree on abortion. If you don't like plain M&Ms though, we may have an issue. *giggle* Simply trying to make you smile there.

Finally, I have given a lot of thought to my attendance at a church about 17 years ago. In that church we were encouraged to echo and believe what the pastor believed. When I left the church I remember thinking that I'm to be a voice and not an echo. We are all called to have our own thoughts and feelings on whatever issue is on our hearts, not just follow the crowd. I'll stop there because I could do a whole other post on that. *giggle*

I care about humans and dogs. DEEPLY. So if you're struggling with anything and need an ear to listen, I'm here. I don't cook much, but I always have water, pepsi, and milk on hand. *grin*  Or I have a zoom account for personal use if you need to look at someone and talk. *grin*

For now I'll say Life is good. 

And I think I'll escape into fictional TV for a while. *grin*

LIFE.

IS.

GOOD.

ALWAYS. *grin*


Thursday, December 31, 2020

2020 Thoughts, Lessons, and Randomness

Wow, 2020 has had highs, lows, and everything in-between. I've had this post rolling around in my head for days. As usual, I'm not sure where we're headed, but in a couple hours, we will be in a new year. That makes me smile. *grin*

2020 started in a typical fashion for me. I was in the GPR with hundreds of people very similarly to the previous 17 years.  I remember praying for my former pastor in hope of a full recovery. He passed on January 2. My heart sank and not a day has gone by that I haven't thought of him. At the same time, I think he went home at just the right time. Let me explain.... 

Pastor Daryl (P.D.) was known as Papa Daryl to SO MANY of God's kids. I was able to watch his celebration of life online and it was very, very clear he impacted MANY lives this side of Heaven. I was able to reach out to his daughter and have developed a friendship with her. She also sent me one of her Dad's pieces of art and it's hanging in my living room. Not a day has gone by that I haven't looked at it, thought of him, and prayed for his wife that's this side of Heaven.  Hang with me here, I'm headed somewhere with all of this. *grin*

I will never forget how much I loved seeing his posts in his Papa Bear shirt when he was with us this side of Heaven. It was so very fitting for him.  *grin* Any time I see that shirt on someone else, I smile at the memory of P.D.

Throughout 2020 I have lost SEVERAL friends. I can't remember attending so many services for people in one calendar year. Honestly, all of them were virtual too. Only one of the people passed from COVID-19, but I think the Pandemic made all of the other losses more intense because we couldn't go celebrate each other's lives in person. Hang with me, here, there's a reason for me sharing so much about the loss of human life this year in my little corner of the world. 

January 2 will always be a day when I think of PD going home. I also think he went home just in time. I mean, I can't say what the next life is like for sure, but I'd like to think that there's someone waiting for us as we cross over into Eternity. I have also had a thought this year, that PD was waiting for all of the new arrivals in Heaven. I can see him being a Papa to so many there. I can see him welcoming all of my friends into the new world there. 

Sure, we're in a pandemic and we've lost hundreds of thousands of lives to COVID, I don't think PD is just waiting for my friends to enter Heaven. I see PD welcoming everyone there. *grin* PD knew how to help people without having to ask. He and his wife are still champions in my heart because of how well they loved those around them. *grin*

I realize I could be way off in my thinking, and I think that's fine. Loss of life this side of Heaven is the most difficult thing we live through. I truly believe that. I also have simply found comfort in having PD in Heaven as I have received word of others going Home.

Tonight I sit here (New Year's Eve 2020) in the shirt that honors Emily Hightower. I wasn't able to put it on until today. Emily was a favorite camper out at Barnabas, and everyone who knew her loved her. I have pondered her A LOT since she went home. Emily had Spina Bifida this side of Heaven, but I imagine her dancing in Heaven with PD cheering her on. I think that's beautiful. 

2020 has had it's fair share of challenges. I'm not going to dwell on the challenges. I learned a lot that I couldn't have learned otherwise and think it was life changing. Overall, I learned:

1. Relationships mean more to me than I previously thought.  I like that. People need people. I am blessed with amazing people. During the pandemic I invited people at my previous job to join me for virtual lunch daily at noon. It wound up being four of us almost everyday. I've moved from that job but those four gals (one joined our text thread and is part of our group now. *grin*) are now closer to me than I ever thought possible. Technology helped our friendships begin and continue to grow even during a time when physical distancing is needed to make sure everyone is safe. *grin* Although I can't wait to hug Paxton again. *giggle* 

2. Technology can be good and bad. 2020 will be the year I learned how to teach online to my special education students at the elementary level. I also learned you can honor a life through a webcam. I also learned that I didn't talk to my parents as much as I should have previously. *grin* THANK YOU, GOD!

3. I learned that it's a gift to be able to disagree with someone but still love them. I learned (deeply in some cases) that my relationships mean more to me than any social issue or political candidate. We are blessed to live in a nation where we're allowed to disagree. I've also learned that I'm blessed to have friends who agree that we can disagree and still get along. *grin*

4. This is the longest I've been away from church due to the pandemic. I miss the people, but I've learned a depth to my relationship with God that I have never known. It's been good. Sure, I look forward to returning, but I'm not miserable right now. I now understand in a deep way when people say Christianity is not about a building. *grin* It's about people.

5. Exercise outdoors helps my mental health more than I previously thought. Walking Jay has always been good for me, but, I've enjoyed walking Jay in a good way this year. There's something about being outside that makes me smile. *grin*

I could go on and on but would like to stop there. 

Years from now I imagine the phrase "2020" will bring sadness to a lot of people. For me, it will also make me smile. I learned a lot, loved others via technology, and gained a new job that I love. 

I had to lose people this side of Heaven, but gosh, PD is up there. And that makes me smile.

It's going to snow all day on January 1, 2021 here. I believe that will be a gift from God too. There's something peaceful in the white snow as it falls to the ground. I plan to watch it fall and smile. New beginnings are a gift from God and that's what we're about to have here. 

New beginnings are beautiful.

LIFE. IS. GOOD.

*grin*

Saturday, October 24, 2020

2020 Adventures

What a year it has been. 

It feels like it's been a lifetime since January in so many different ways. 

I have had highs, lows, and everything in between this year. 

A pandemic is not for the faint at heart, that's for sure. I have not had the CaronaVirus. (Unless I was asymptomatic and just didn't know.) As of today we've lost over 220,000 Americans to the virus. We'll lose more too, unfortunately. I could do a whole post on this topic, but I don't want to do that. 
I continue to pray for all of those affected and on the front lines. This is a year we won't forget for sure. *grin* 

So, I noticed my last post was in May. That seems like a lifetime ago too. The Chiefs won the Super Bowl this year too?  That was sooo long ago too. *giggle*

In March I started job searching. I know, job searching in a pandemic seems crazy, doesn't it? Well, it's 2020 so anything can happen, right? *giggle* After interviewing with several districts over the Summer for a teaching gig in the fall, nothing panned out. I was actually okay with that. I mean, I liked my job at The Whole Person. The Pandemic created a friendship with three coworkers that occurred daily at lunch. Yes, via zoom and then in person when possible. I also enjoyed the groups I led, so that was special to me too. I was happy. 

My financial life was getting to me though. I missed the income the teacher gig gave me. I remember praying one night in September that I needed more money. 

Then my phone rang that next morning while I was at work from a school district. I'll be honest, I didn't expect it to pan out. My heart had been broken by the districts I had hoped to work for and then they just didn't pan out. I had already told God I was okay doing one more year at TWP. Then He opened a door. *grin*

After three interviews, I got the job!!! Insert happy dance here. *giggle* I accepted a Special Education Resource position at a district in Kansas. *grin*

The afternoon I accepted the job I had all the feels. I was so excited about my new adventure, but I'm so relational that the idea of leaving the TWP family made me sad. Then I remembered that many other friends had moved on from TWP but we were still in touch. (Chiefs games mean text chats, and so does THIS IS US!) I let myself feel the feels but I didn't stay there. 

I was legitimately pumped about the new job. It meant fewer miles on my car, less gas, less time on the road, more money, better work hours, and I don't time in and out. (That last one is minor, but gosh it has made me smile daily.) 

I was SOOOO nervous. If I hadn't been, that would have been weird, right? *grin* I've been working in my new school 13 days and I can honestly say I LOVE IT! I do think the two years away from teaching was a gift. I also think doing something different was key. I'll openly admit, I miss my old school, but I know I'm where I'm supposed to be. *grin* 

Now, I won't say it's been easy. We're still in a pandemic, and school had already started. I knew on day 1 that I was already behind since I didn't get to set up my room or lesson plan like usual. Upon arrival, half of my day was online teaching and half in person. Let me tell you, this has not been easy. 

All students are due back Monday and I'm so excited! I'm sure you're wondering, so I'll share that we are extremely safe at school. We wear masks all day, distance when we can, and spray cleaner every time students leave. We also stay pretty much in our own teams, and even our staff meeting was virtual. The district is doing a good job at keeping us all safe. 

At the same time, we're nervous that we'll have to quarantine with so many humans in the building. I am already praying about that though. I'm not nervous I'll get it, but I am nervous that we'll have to quarantine. I just keep reminding myself that God has us. *grin*

2020 has been an adventure for sure. I am walking Jay daily, coloring regularly to relieve stress, zooming with my family weekly, and am happy. Perhaps I'll do other posts about the amazing people that have gone on to Heaven this year, or the weight of a pandemic, political battles, a year without Barnabas family, well, the list of posts could go on and on.

Or maybe not. 

EVEN IN 2020 LIFE IS GOOD. 

I'm smiling more, laughing more. and loving the people God has surrounded me with for this season. Life is short. Life is good. *grin*

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Pandemic Thoughts While Walking Jay

Since the weather started getting warmer in March, Jay and I walk almost everyday. I have learned to LOVE walks. I didn't hate them before, but I didn't enjoy them either. (Am I alone in that? Doubt it!) Yes, part of it is due to the Pandemic. Indoors for too long isn't good for the body. *grin*

So, we have a typical route we take, but it can vary depending upon how much time we have and if I need to be back here for a zoom meeting. I've enjoyed the apartment life so much more than I ever expected. I love my neighbors, who are super kind. I also like that we have A LOT of apartments here so we have miles of sidewalks to choose from. We're also surrounded by a nice neighborhood so we sometimes walk the neighborhood too. I let Jay choose the route most of the time, which he loves.

So tonight we started out on our usual route, and I noticed we STILL have a trash problem. Yes, let me explain. The past few days our dumpsters have been filling up to the point that the area outside the dumpsters are full too. I should also mention we have A LOT of units here. Just in my area alone are about 80 apartments. So, as you can imagine, that's A LOT of trash. I actually need to take some to the dumpster but am waiting because there's not any space out there. We even had an email from the main office yesterday stating that they were going to come to take the trash today, but they didn't. Yes, so that means when we walked around 5:00 there was a lot of trash out for the whole world to see. Yeah, so it got me to thinking.

A lot of people have said that 2020 is a dumpster fire due to the Pandemic. I understand why they say that, I mean, we've lost 80,000 lives to the CoronaVirus since March, and the list can definitely go on from there. However, there has been good out of it too. As usual, I think it comes down to what perspective you take on the situation.

I love how ABC Nightly News regularly shows positive stories out of this challenging season. We've seen Birthday Parades, people applauding health care workers, singing nightly in some neighborhoods around the country, and loved ones visiting their elderly family through the window (closed, of course) to celebrate birthdays. I could go on and on, but needless to say I have been pleasantly surprised at the amount of good I've seen in the midst of the challenge.

A week ago social media exploded with conspiracy theories around this whole thing. I have to admit I sat here and pondered the whole thing. I mean, this is new territory for all of us. I also realize there's still A LOT that we don't know about the virus, and what we do know seems to change almost daily.

I've been working from home since March 24th. It hasn't all been easy, but it has been worth it. I initially wanted to work from home so that I wouldn't get the virus. I think through the past 8 weeks I've discovered that even if I were to get it, I would probably recover and life would go on. However, something hit me HARD the other night.

A friend of mine made a comment on zoom that made me stop and think. She said we're not wearing masks to keep from getting it, we're wearing masks to protect those around us. I knew that on one level, but then something hit me. Since we don't know (as of today) who has it and who doesn't (I'll refrain from my whole thought process about testing in America, you're welcome!) and you can be asymptomatic and never know you had it, you can pass it and never even know it. Just the idea that my sneeze or cough can affect someone to the point of death, well, makes me more cautious. I don't want to find out how well I would handle it if I caused someone else to lose their life due to my actions. That's a perspective I didn't have before. For real.

So you may be wondering where I'm going with all of this. Here's the thing, the overflowing trash will be picked up eventually. It won't be fast enough for those of us living here, but it will happen. Then having the trash company come three times a week like they were before will be taken for granted again. I think the same will be true of the CoronaVirus.

With places opening up, social distancing being the norm, cleaning areas will be cleaner than ever before, and hand sanitizer will be carried everywhere we go. All of those are good things. And honestly, hand washing and cleaning frequently used areas should have been the norm before all of this. Was it? I doubt it. We're learning though...

It may be a while before sports teams start playing in front of crowds and concerts can be held again, and that's okay too. My brother made a comment at one point that has also stuck with me, "one life lost is too many." He's right.

So yes, now I'll take my lawn chair and sit outdoors with friends from a safe distance in order to visit. I'll also carry my own beverage and hand sanitizer too. I'll also wear my mask when shopping, even though I hate wearing it, to protect everyone around me.

Years from now we'll know things we don't know today. It might look silly that I worked from home for 8 weeks. It also may seem silly that Camp Barnabas was closed during the Summer of 2020. It might even seem silly that graduations weren't held on their original dates. All of those things are the right things to do at this point though, because we are still learning about the Virus and don't have a vaccine.

One thing's for sure, I will NEVER take for granted a smile from a stranger, a hug from a friend or student, or being able to hang out without a distance. That's okay too.

I think God gives us chapters in our lives to make us better, stronger, and closer to Him. Eight weeks in this apartment, and I can say I am closer to him than I was on March 23rd. I also think the lessons gained will last my lifetime. *grin* God's got this, my friends, we just need to have some more patience & compassion for each other. *grin* I mean, the trash will be picked up soon, and we won't be in this pandemic forever. *grin*

Life.
is.
Good.
Even in a pandemic. *grin*

Saturday, May 09, 2020

THANKFUL

I lost count of how many days we've had the Stay-at-Home order, and I think it's better that way. I see a proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. That's comforting and a little scary all at the same time. However, I am thankful for some things during this season.

If I had known twenty years ago that we were going to have a pandemic, I wouldn't have believed it. As I sit here in my apartment, I am thankful for technology in a whole new way.

I haven't hugged a human since this whole thing started. I haven't hung out with friends or family in a physical sense either. The weirdest part, I have moments of stress, but overall I'm doing pretty well. *grin* I'm doing well (in part) due to the technology available now.

I'm thankful for Netflix & Prime streaming services, as I'm currently binge watching show #2 of the day. Does it replace people? Gosh no, but to get through this season, it's been a gift. *grin* Favorite shows this Pandemic Season (to remember years from now): Northern Rescue, Dead to Me, and Upload. SO VERY THANKFUL for these shows since sports are nonexistent right now. *grin*

I could almost title this season, ZOOM. I meet with my family on Sunday afternoons on zoom. It has brought us all closer together during a time we can't be together. I look forward to it each week as we all process this once-in-a-lifetime situation. Our experiences are similar, but not the same. My book club also meets via zoom. I look forward to seeing everyone in person again, but, for now zoom makes this a little bit better.

And quite possibly the most unexpected gift out of this season is my zoom lunches with friends from work. It is the highlight of our days during a time when we're to be physically distant from each other. We have four of us who regularly meet, we're the Fantastic Four, although anyone is welcome. *grin* We plan to continue them even when we return to work, as we are still physically distancing to keep everyone safe. We even had a celebration for a co-worker who recently went to Heaven. It was really special. We may be physically apart, but we're close in the daily stuff. I'm blessed by that. TOTALLY.

I am praying OFTEN for healthy outcomes to this situation. Selfishly, I pray we don't have another round in the fall. But if we do, at least I know what technology can do to make this experience a little better. God made us to be with people, so, I also know I'll be thankful to be able to hug another person too. *giggle*

For tonight though, I'm thankful for technology to carry me through this Pandemic.

*grin*
LIFE.
IS.
GOOD!

Friday, April 24, 2020

Margaret, Rest in Peace

Today my work family received word that one of our coworkers went to Heaven on Wednesday. Margaret Crow was in charge of transportation when I started at The Whole Person (TWP) in July 2018. I first met her during Orientation and she explained the procedures for taking our fleet cars. From the moment I met her, I knew she was special.

I had a few really special moments with her that will stick with me the rest of my life. Margaret drove us to Jeff City last year for Disability Rights Day. I'll never forget her coming in and sitting down by me after the event. It was the first time I had really talked to her. Her heart came through as we talked through some tough things, and I saw her (proverbial) heart. She was transparent in the chat and we both teared up. Then, someone needed her and she was gone to help someone with something. That was her heart for all of us, she wanted to help in ANY way she could. I also never saw her in a bad mood. Ever.

I'll never forget the first time I took the mod van and had someone that had to be buckled in right then. No one had trained me on it. Margaret was walking by and hopped on the van and taught me how to safely get the intern attached to the van. She didn't have to do that, she did it because she wanted to help. That will forever stick with me because she WANTED to do that. *grin*

Finally, the last time I saw her was in her house after her diagnosis. I hate Cancer. Hate, hate, hate it. I adored Margaret though. She sat on her love seat, and had just recently quit her job at TWP due to her diagnosis of Cancer throughout her body. She invited me to sit down and I learned a little bit more about her. I learned she loved art, and had some really cool art tools. I learned how much she loved Chiefs football & I'm so very glad that her last Chiefs season was the one where we won the Super Bowl. We texted more than once through the Chiefs most recent season which was cool.

As she sat there, she said words I'll never forget, "It's a new season, I'm getting used to it." That was Margaret. She didn't complain, she simply looked for the good in each situation I witnessed her in. Even when she would have had reason to complain, she didn't when I was around. She would always smile and make a comment about how fortunate she was in any situation. She inspired me several times in the short time I knew her.

Margaret, you won't be forgotten. I saw TONS of messages about you today, and A LOT of your friends can't believe you're gone. The silver lining in this is the fact you and Mo are back together again. That makes us smile. So many of us on this side of Heaven will miss you, but we'll also remember that you aren't in pain anymore. You loved people well on this side, and we are all better people for having you in our lives. You'll always hold a special place in my heart. ALWAYS. *grin* Rest in Peace, my friend. With Love, Shannon

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Pandemic Highlights

Here we are again, another day of stay-at-home order. While there certainly challenges along the way, I want to post tonight about some highlights in the midst of it all. None of these are huge, but, they're things I want to remember on the other side of this experience.

I've re-discovered FaceTime. Ohmygosh, WHAT A GIFT! I have been using it to talk to friends, and it has been a true highlight for me. I used to just text, but talking to other humans and seeing their faces makes me smile. It's a true gift for me. I recently reconnected with a few people, and gosh it's fun to catch up! *grin*

I've also started walking long distances again. Not today, due to rain, but every chance I get after work, we walk.(The furry kid and I) I've lost a little weight, which is nice too, but to be outdoors and moving is helping me clear my head and stay positive. It's not supposed to rain tomorrow. THANK GOODNESS!

I heard today that music helps reduce stress. I play music all day while I work. (unless on a zoom call) I am so glad I'm alive in a time when music is a so available for me to obtain. I love how I can see on Instagram or FB that a favorite band has released a new song (Cory Asbury!!!) and I can immediately download it. (Also glad I'm alive to experience Apple Music) Music is definitely something that has helped me more than words can say. *grin*

I'm also thankful for Social Media. I can follow what's up with my friends without interfering with their lives. I'm so very proud of the Missionaries I've had in my cabins over the years and love being able to see them getting married, having kids, etc. So very proud of all of them. *grin*

Finally, I'm reminded of how good people can be on a daily basis. I have people text me daily to check in on me, and make sure I'm doing okay in a time when staying at home is required of everyone. I think a common thought for people is, "It would be hard to be single right now." Meanwhile, I'm like, "I don't have anyone to bug me, I'm good." *giggle* At the same time, it's neat to know that people care enough to send a text, card, or call to make sure I'm doing well in this situation. Just knowing that makes me smile. *grin*

LIFE.
IS.
GOOD.