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A Matter of Perspective

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When several important people in my life die in a relatively short amount of time, does it mean everyone I love will leave? When I don’t talk to my best friend for days, does it mean she’s mad at me or that I did something wrong? When my sister is diagnosed with leukemia, does it mean God doesn’t care? When my Dad wouldn’t spend time alone with me, did it mean he didn’t love me or think I was worth his time?

The answers to each of these questions, to all questions, all depends on perspective. Our perspective begins from a combination of our experiences and our environment. The really cool thing I have learned about perspective is that I can change mine any time I choose. The key lies in the awareness that everything I am telling myself, everything I believe, is just a story that I have made up about events and situations based on my interpretation of my experiences and my environment. Once I am aware of this and realize a story is not serving me, I am able to change the story to something that does serve me.

For years I was angry at my Dad. I was hurt and carried a lot of regret and resentment about him not loving me the way I thought I needed to be loved. I let that mean that my Dad didn’t love me at all and that there was obviously something wrong with me, both of which are completely untrue. Today, I choose to look from a new view and know that my Dad loved me the best he knew how, just as he was, and just as I was. He believed in me and wanted the best for me. When he did things like calling me names and criticizing my weight, he was reflecting his feelings about himself on me. Changing this story has opened my mind to memories of good times with my Dad that were blocked from my view for so long when I was focused on what I perceived I didn’t get from him instead of on what I did receive from him. I now have a different view of who he really was as a person and as my Dad.

One of my sisters was recently diagnosed with leukemia. I could have easily chosen the perspective that God doesn’t care. Four family members have died of various forms of cancer and three other family members previously had cancer. How much more does one family have to take? Only God knows, and my sister reminded me that we are called to do the possible and leave the impossible to God. He knows what he is doing and he sees the whole picture while we see only such a small part. Today I choose the perspective that God Uses all things for the good of those who love him, even though he may not heal my sister of cancer. Cancer is not good. What God can grow from a cancer diagnosis can be. For the first time in my life, I found the words to tell my sister she is important to me. Instead of rejecting me, she thanked me, and we can grow from here. Although I don’t know what lies ahead for my sister, I do know that God has a plan and she is already in the first stage of remission!

I once heard the statement, when the pain of where you are is greater than the fear of where you are going, you’ll go. Sometimes it takes a lot of pain or beating my head against a wall for me to recognize I am stuck in a story and I have the power to choose a different one. Sometimes I have the awareness and I am not ready to let go of a story, even when it is no longer serving me, perhaps because of fear of letting go or simply feeling safe in the comfort of what is familiar. Sometimes I need nudging from someone else to explore other stories that will help me move closer to my goals and serve me better.

What I am learning is that pain is a natural part of life, and suffering is optional. How long I hold onto stories that are holding me back from moving forward is my choice. I can choose to be a victim or I can choose to own my own power and change the stories that are no longer serving me in meeting my goals.

Worth it


After spending much of my life feeling less than, left out, lonely, and lost, I often feel unsure of the path I am currently walking on. I question everything and sometimes paralyze myself with information. I have been encouraged to write by several people for quite some time, and fear and lack of understanding or knowledge of my own value has held me back. More often than not I have believed that what I have to say is unimportant and not worth anyone else listening to.

I recently had an opportunity to go on a journey that involved some self-reflection and awareness of what was going on around me – what I saw, smelled, heard, perceived. During this journey I had thoughts about writing, and speaking, and encouraging others. I could feel a knot in my stomach, much like the one I am feeling right now writing this post and thinking about other people potentially reading it. I thought about the fear of putting myself out there like that and being vulnerable and exposed for other people to see. My first instinct was to change my mind, but I can’t forget what I already know.

As I walked on my journey I came across the words “worth it” painted on a concrete wall across the street. It spoke to me so much that I had to stop and take a picture of it. I am learning to trust my instinct, those gut level responses, and the various signs that reinforce those instincts. I walked right by these words earlier in my walk and didn’t notice them at all, and on my way back they spoke to me and told me that pushing through the fear and finding my voice will be worth it.

I have recently been letting little bits of me leak out by sharing what I am thinking and I am finding that doing so is not as scary as I had imagined it would be. Having something to share, a story to tell, and keeping it inside is starting to feel more scary than letting out what has been inside hiding for so long. What I have to say is worth it. Telling my story and sharing me is worth it. I am worth it.

In Search of Eagles

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My Dad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in October, 2004, and told he had about 5 weeks to live. The year before he had finally retired and gotten married for the second time. He was only 66 years old. He lived on a flowage in northern Wisconsin and a pair of eagles made their home in a nest right across the flowage from my Dad’s home. He watched those eagles and talked to God and his faith grew. His favorite verse became Isaiah 40:31, which states in the New International version of the Bible, “those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” He talked about eagles a lot and they took on great importance for him.

My sisters and I didn’t know what to do for my Dad for Christmas that year because we knew it would be his last. We wanted to do something special because he had always made Christmas so special for all of us. We ended up hiring a guy to carve the top of a tree on my Dad’s property into an eagle while we all watched. My Dad loved that day.

It wasnt long after my Dad died that I started seeing eagles, a lot. It often happened when I was feeling really low, or questioning God, or missing my Dad. I clearly remember driving in my car on one occasion, talking to God about all of my missed opportunities to let my Dad know how much I loved him and to have reassurance of how much he loved me back. I was driving on a bridge over the Eau Claire river when I saw this amazing eagle soaring in circles up above. I remember feeling a sense of peace and I was sure this was a sign from God that my Dad did love me and knew how much I loved him.

Since then there have been many times that eagles have made an appearance at just the moment when I needed reassurance from God and they have come to be a symbol to me of strength, peace, serenity, and God’s faithfulness and unending love. Whenever I am feeling unsettled or unsure, I find myself with my eyes to the sky, in search of eagles. What I am really looking for is comfort, affirmation, and faith that it, whatever “it” is at the moment, will work out okay in the end and exactly as God has planned.

I don’t see eagles every time I am in search of them. I do see them every time God knows I need to, even when I am not aware of my need. Sometimes I see an eagle when I have no recognizable need and I use these times as an opportunity to notice the peace I am feeling and thank God.

Like my Dad, my faith has grown through talking to God and searching for eagles. I have learned through my growing faith that God has a sense of humor and sometimes needs to get my attention by other means. Sometimes, when I am in search of eagles, God sends a cricket.

To be continued . . .