Tag Archives: worship

A New Year 2018

Grateful for This Day, This Year


Over the past few weeks I’ve had so many conversations with women about Christmas and empty nest.

For some of us,IMG_0918 the house filled with family and friends, and we could feel the buzz of energy. Granted, we also navigated personalities and preferences. But the dance energized us.

Some of us found ourselves celebrating a quiet Christmas. Life has changed this year, especially family dynamics, so the house seemed to echo this year.

This year, for the first time ever, we did not see our son at Christmas. Part of me kept hoping I would look outside and see his car pulling into the driveway. I missed him. And his girlfriend. We did, of course, love having our daughter here with us for two weeks. :)

All this holiday angst and empty nest angst converge for me in the taking down of Christmas decorations. I avoid it as long as I can, including posting about it on Facebook. Putting everything away seems so, well, final. That’s it for this year. A wrap. And then the color seems to drain out of the house, almost like a person about to faint. Everything looks and feels stark. Ugh!

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This past Sunday I decided I needed to just jump in and take decorations down. And thanks to the discussion on Facebook, I knew I wanted to make it a meaningful moment of some sort. Early that morning, while drinking my coffee, I mentioned my idea to John—a vague concept, nothing concrete.

My organized husband quickly proposed a plan: “How about if we go to the late service at church and take everything down before we leave. That way when we finish, we can worship.”

Yes, oh yes!

So we jumped in. I turned on Fernando Ortega music—mostly hymns—and gathered up Christmas decorations and memories. As I did, I intentionally thanked God for this Christmas, for this version of family, for this year passed, and for this year ahead.

And then we headed for church where our pastor preached on the hope of heaven, based on 1 Peter 1:3-9. He reminded us, “Nothing here, as good as it is, can be compared to what is yet to come [in heaven].”

Final Twitter 1 Peter

As 2018 begins, I pray for eyes to see the hope of heaven as well as eyes to see the joy of this day, this season of life.

Join me? Let’s cheer each other on this year as we navigate life whatever the size of our nest.











Just Three Things

The three little pigs. The three blind mice. The Three Stooges.

Everything comes in threes, right? At least my husband says so. Every time we discuss a topic he says, “It comes down to three things.

I’ve had this conversation about three so many times with John that when I started to think about how to navigate the September transition that always challenges me, I naturally came up with a three-pronged approach.

I’m not sure why September presents a challenge for me, but it does. Perhaps I miss the buzz of getting kids ready for school (might explain why I went out and bought myself crayons, gel pens, and a coloring book). Perhaps I know winter is coming. Perhaps I miss my friends who go back to school jobs. Whatever the reason, I find I must fight depression with more zeal in September.

So . . . I recently decided to work hard to do three things every day this September. And because I don’t remember as well as I used to, all of these three things start with the same letter—W.


Being outside and hearing birds tweet and dogs bark and bumping into a neighbor, her smiley baby, and her just-learned-to-ride-a-tricycle daughter feeds my soul. It slows me down enough to talk to my neighbor, to breathe deeply of the air, to admire the cloudless blue sky. And doing all of that takes my eyes and my thoughts off myself.

Apparently walking also produces endorphins in my brain, which gives me a mental and emotional boost.

Not bad for something free. If only I could move some mountains to Illinois.


Every day I talk to John on the phone and after dinner. Neither of us would miss our daily conversations and end-of-the-day debrief. And yet, I still need to spend time daily with girlfriends, even if that time is via text, email, or phone.

They help me find perspective. As we listen to each other, I realize that we all have challenges.
They make me laugh at myself and at the silly side of a situation I just couldn’t see.
They challenge me to do what I need to do for myself in the midst of caring for others.
They remind me that God sees and cares.

When I reach the end of the day and sit down with John to debrief, if I have had my girl-time, I meet my husband with more of a “full tank.” I don’t come expecting him to make everything better or meet all my emotional needs. And, really, what one person can do all of that all of the time?


Over the past few years, I have discovered the joy of personal, daily worship.

After I walk the Chief Furry Officer, we come home and settle into our favorite chair in the living room with a view of the front garden, a bird feeder, and the morning sun.


Then I grab my phone and tap my Pandora App, specifically my Storm Sisters Soundtrack station. (Here is the link: http://www.pandora.com/station/play/1139667308769314118). Pandora lets you customize your own station and mine is full of Fernando Ortega music, including new versions of hymns. I know many of us don’t sing hymns any more, but I find the words of hymns so life-giving. I close my eyes, breathe deeply, and let my mind focus on the words. I often find myself turning the words of the hymns into prayer. After three or four songs, my brain begins to stop jumping to the to-do list, and I begin to simply worship God. The CFO seems to settle too. :)

Worship, like walking, pulls me out of myself and gives me perspective. It reminds me that God sees and hears and cares. Nothing is impossible with God. I am not alone.

If I have a particularly challenging day and find myself churning in guilt, anger, frustration, or despair, I often return to that Pandora App and take a worship break.

Simple, right? Just three things. And they all start with W.

Want to join me in trying the three-W approach this September? Or perhaps you have developed your own three-pronged approach to coping with transition and times of stress.