Change with Change

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I love fall with it’s vibrant colors and the last warm weeks before winter sets in. It’s a feeling of coming home. We prepare our gardens for winter and we get a long break from having to mow, weed, and water our plants. As fall progresses, the weather grows colder and we come inside and spend time together. We start to prepare for the holidays that will soon be upon us. I love the crisp air, the crackling of dried leaves beneath my shoes, the mums and pumpkins that decorate the front of my house, and hot apple cider becomes my favorite drink. Fall brings change, but it’s a change I welcome.

I can’t say that about every change in my life. Some change I’ve wanted to resist. Like seeing my children leave home and move away or watching my parents grow old and face the challenges that come with their aging. Come to think of it, I’ve been combating some of my own signs of aging, and unfortunately have lost the fight in some aspects of this battle. Breaking a habit is another difficult change. Have you ever tried changing your diet? Then you know what I’m talking about.

Yet change is inevitable and it all comes down to my attitude, doesn’t it? I realize some change is so devastating that you need time to mourn. I get that. I’ve been there. But I can’t stay in that depressed state for long. If I cannot hinder the change from occurring, I must resist the feeling of hopelessness. But how do I do that?

Many refer to 1 Corinthians 13 as the love chapter, but the verse that most profoundly affected me when I first read this chapter was verse 13. “Three things will last forever–faith, hope, and love–and the greatest of these is love.” The reason this verse stood out to me was the word “hope.” I totally get it that I need faith in God and I need love. Indeed, how empty my life would feel if I had no faith and no love in my life. But think for a moment what life would be like without hope. When change brings a negative outcome, I need hope that things will get better again. Hope gives me a reason to move forward and to make new plans.

So how do I keep myself from feeling hopeless? I’m certainly no expert, but I have a few suggestions.

  1.  Talk to God: When you have a personal relationship with God, there is nothing you cannot talk to Him about. It isn’t that He’s unaware of your difficulties or changes, but He wants you to come to Him because He wants to have fellowship with you. That’s how He set it up. Often, as I talk to God about what I’m going through, I find the answer as I pray. “Then Jesus said, ‘Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.'” (Matthew 11:28 NLT) “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10 NIV) I have come to God over and over again, and He has proven Himself faithful to me. He renews my hope.
  2. Refocus:  Look for ways to help others. Meet new people. Find a new hobby or do something you’ve always wanted to do, but never had the time. Take a course and learn something new. (I wrote a novel when I needed to accept a huge change in my life. I always wanted to do this, so I finally did it.)
  3. Work: Repaint and redecorate. The change will do you good. Work on gardening. Make some changes around your house. (When my kids moved out, instead of keeping their rooms as shrines in their memory, I repainted and redecorated them as guest rooms for when they would come home to visit. I loved the new look.)
  4. Exercise: This is a huge help to get rid of stress and get some happy hormones (endorphins) flowing through your body. Ask a friend or neighbor to join you. In the process, you may help them face their difficult changes in a healthy way, too.

In closing, I have one more word of advice. Change with change. Sounds strange, right? But what I mean is, when change comes your way, change with it. For instance, your adult child moved to another state. Don’t sit with a photo album on your lap staring at your loss, or watch all the home videos of your children’s childhood. There is a time for that. Do it when they visit you, and watch the videos together. You can all laugh at how adorable they were. In this way, you will make new happy memories with them of all of you watching the videos together. When your child calls you, don’t go on and on about how much you miss them and how lonely you are. It’s okay to say that you miss them, since it will make them feel loved and appreciated, but show them by example how you have also moved on with your life. In the process, you will be teaching your children how to accept change and move forward. So when change comes your way, change with it.

IMG_0991You cannot resist the fall season so that winter will never arrive. Whether you like it or not, if you live in Michigan, winter will come, ready or not. It’s best to embrace and enjoy the fall season and then do it again when winter sets in, because in every season there is something to enjoy. In the same way, when change comes into your life, you must embrace it and prepare for the next phase. It may be the opposite of what you long to do, but it is what you must do for yourself and for your family. Make the new phase enjoyable by the attitude in which you embrace it.

Breathtaking Views and a Sign

A cable car took us high up onto a mountain in Grindelwald, Switzerland. The view was breathtaking! It’s something we’ve seen in pictures and wondered if it could really be this magnificent if we saw it with our own eyes. Now, as we stood there taking it all in, the splendor was beyond description. Hiking around the top of a mountain over 7,000 feet above where we had parked our car, we gazed in wonder and gasped at the things we could see, wishing all our closest friends and family could be there to savor it all with us.

When we reached a certain peak, there was a sign someone had posted. It was there to remind travelers, tourists, and shepherds of who was responsible for all we could see. Whose hand created it. Who is worthy of our praise. I don’t know the person who posted the sign or how long ago it was placed there, but I realize they, too, were enraptured by all that stood before them and they knew who was responsible for putting it there.

fullsizeoutput_1ceeEverything that has breath,
Praise the Lord. – Psalm 150:6

“Our land in all its splendor,
Its mountains, its corridors,
Are the witnesses of your might,
Traces of your fatherly goodness.

Everything in us bows,
Great things you have done.”

K. V. Greyerz

(Translation of poem by Curt Dalaba)

Becoming Aware

IMG_1019I had a flashback today while walking on a bike path near my home. Scooter, my Yorkie-Poo, and I love to walk this 40-minute walk almost every day. (Except on the days when I don’t love it. When I’d rather be a couch potato. On those days, he loves the walk and I only go because it’s good for me and I’m tired of his begging.) Normally, my 81-year-old mother joins me, but since she wasn’t feeling well, it was just me and Scooter today. Without someone to talk to, I began noticing flowers along the sidewalk I hadn’t seen before. Suddenly, my mind flashed back to a conversation I had with my grandmother years ago.

IMG_1014When we lived in Germany, my grandmother came for a visit and we decided we needed some exercise. I put my youngest in the stroller while my five-year-old walked beside me holding my grandmother’s hand. We walked from our townhouse through a quaint German neighborhood and then across a field to get to the canal that led to a water reserve, which was a great place for exercise. As we walked across the field, my grandmother said, “Anneliese, look at the flowers.” I looked at the pretty wild flowers she pointed out to me and admired them. She said, “You must always notice the flowers around you. God put them there for your enjoyment.”

IMG_1020Years have gone by since that day. My children have grown and married, and my grandmother has gone home to be with the Lord, but her words have stayed with me. As I’ve faced various stresses in life, I’ve tried to make a point of noticing the flowers along my path — the blessings in my life. No matter how difficult the circumstances, if you seek Him, you will find Him. Even if it’s in the flower along your path.

“Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” (Luke 12:27 ESV)

IMG_1012Jesus told us to “Consider the lilies.” Become aware of nature around us for there are lessons to be learned. Jesus was addressing our anxious thoughts in this verse. If God cares for flowers and grass that are here today and gone tomorrow, how much more will He care for you. So the next time you go for a walk, notice the flowers and remember how much you are loved and cared for. Call out to Jesus and ask Him to bring you through whatever trial you’re facing. Then ask Him to help you to become aware of His presence. He will help you not to feel alone. He will encourage you.

IMG_1023As I walked alone with Scooter today, I pulled out my iPhone and began taking pictures of the things I saw. I was amazed at how many flowers I pass every day and never notice them because I’m distracted by life. I’m grateful for my grandmother who shared her wisdom with me and helped me to experience the love of Jesus today through words she spoke to me long ago. “Anneliese, look at the flowers.”