Archive for November, 2010

How to Thrive in Stress

November 30, 2010

I talked to a friend today – she described her life to me.  She has pressure from every side – work and home, yet she still manages to give extravagantly to others.

She leans heavily on Jesus, but also knows how to let others inside her space enough to hold up her arms.

Once, the nation of Israel was at battle.  Joshua and his troops were down on the field engaged in hand-to-hand warfare.  Moses and the seniors, were up on the hilltop where they could watch the proceedings.  Moses discovered that if he held up his arms (signifying that he was giving glory to God, and that God was in charge), then the battle went in Israel’s favor.  When he rested his arms, then Israel started losing.   This seems minor, but when his arms went down, Israelites started dying.  Thus,  Moses found that exhaustion caused the battle to go backwards.  To fix this problem, Hur and Aaron came alongside Moses to lift up his arms.

When you are going through a rough time, you need someone to help you stay focused on the big picture – not just the pain you are in, but on the fact that God IS.

During all the stress that my family has gone through lately (a death in the family, moving, transitioning parents into skilled care – all in the same month), I have found a few arm lifters:

  1. My daughter Caitlyn, home from bible college and full of God’s zeal.
  2. Friends who came alongside us and told us that we are doing a good job.
  3. Friends who pointed out specifics when engaging in #2.
  4. Those who told us ‘I wouldn’t be anywhere else’ when we thanked them for coming to Jean’s memorial.
  5. A friend who brought a care package to the hospital one night. (The same friend who is having so much pressure herself.)
  6. Many who provided meals, etc.

We also found that we stayed focused on the big picture better when we:

  1. dealt with the details instead of hoping they would go away
  2. took time to enjoy each other – even making sure we had a family game night
  3. laughing.  I didn’t realize before these last two weeks that laughter is a choice.
  4. looked for opportunities to be an encouragement/arm lifter for others.

God is mighty to save – and life can sometimes be a tumultuous.  In the midst of the waves of opposition, the only way to win is to keep your focus on the One who delivers.  God carries the result, and will show you every step of the process.

In the Shadow of Evil by Robin Caroll

November 29, 2010

I just finished a really good book. 

Meet Layla – one of the best construction general contractors in the Bayou, who is also a competitive ballroom dancer.

Meet Maddox – a policeman who would rather not have entanglements – more than that, he has issues.

Actually, they both have issues, and then they have a mystery to solve while they work through their issues – and people are dying.

This book is the second Robin Caroll book that I have enjoyed.  She writes a page turner that you don’t want to put down.  She develops believable characters who struggle in life, love, with their past, and with their faith.

You can buy this book on Amazon.com.

A Great Way to Start the Holiday Season

November 28, 2010

Actor Terry Edward Moore as Sherlock Holmes. Photo by Erik Stuhaug

For some reason, the holidays are never complete without a good performance or two.

Thankfully, I was able to locate just the right diversion this Christmas – Taproot Theatre is performing “Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Christmas Carol.”  (Think Holmes meets Scrooge, with a special appearance of Tiny Tim all grown up.)
I was delighted with the evening.  Terry Edward Moore plays Sherlock Holmes.  If you have read Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, you will remember when Holmes killed Moriarty.  What happens when you kill your arch nemesis? What happened to Holmes? 

Jesse Notehelfer, as Young Becky,Terry Edward Moore, as Sherlock Holmes, and Aaron Lamb, as Young Holmes. Photo by Erik Stuhaug.

This production is a study in the character of a man, and the tranformation that insight can bring.  It isn’t just the Christmas Carol revisited – although you will find three spirits – it has pleasant surprises that bring depth to the characters.
Moore develops the character of Holmes well.  Pam Nolte, as always did a great job – somewhat muted from her recent roles, she brings depth to every character that she plays.
My greatest delights were Aaron Lamb and Eric Riedmann.  I recall really enjoying them before – these young men bring a strength of character performance – and most of all, they play off of the other actors very well.
David Dorrian (Uncle Tim among others), is a solid performer who carries his role without upstaging.  He is particularly gifted at presence – you want to know his story before he ever opens his mouth.
Stephen Grenley was a great surprise.  He played the Inn Keeper in Man of La Mancha last year, and his role here as Watson was a great character change.  He brings a depth of emotion to the stage.  I think his character was particularly well written as well.  When you have great writing and a great actor – well, you get a great performance.
Jesse Notehelfer is so fun.  She is becoming quite the accomplished actress.  With such a strong male cast, her part could have come off as trite, but instead, she held her own and brought a delightful presence to the stage.
Last, but certainly not least, is Alex Robertson.  Robertson played Moriarty, and the second (flamboyant) spirit, among other parts.  I really enjoy Robertson’s versatility.  It is obvious that he throws his whole self into the part – he is able to switch between opposite characters with ease, and plays each to the hilt.
If this play had a drawback, it was in staging.   It was a bit unimaginative – although Pam Nolte did perhaps the best job of using the space.  The sound effects were superb, and I appreciated the difficulty for the lighting team to make a play that takes place primarily at night visible to the audience.
Overall – I really loved this production.  As always, Taproot helps us contemplate life while laughing, crying, and enjoying an incredible evening.
You can buy tickets at Taproot’s Website. Hurry, though – tickets are selling fast.  And God bless us, every one.

Dealing with Death

November 26, 2010

There are seasons in life.   In spring, we have new life.  Everything has new energy, growth is abundant.

Spring begins to slow as the weather heats up.  In the summer, we enjoy the effects of spring.  The sun comes out, and even the most reticent turtle can be found sunning himself on the logs among the lilly pads.

Fall seems to hit without warning.  The temperature takes a sudden drop, and we are warned of impending storms.  Just as we get ourselves braced for brisk weather, an Indian Summer raises up and lulls us.  Indian summer is my favorite two weeks of the year.  You can wear sweatshirts morning and night, and shorts in the afternoon – the best of all seasons.  But the ground cools from longer nights, and soon the sun doesn’t heat things up so well.

Fall is a time of death.  Leaves begin to turn – but they stay on the trees – until a big storm.  It is the storms of fall that cause the trees to release past successes that have now turned.  Even then, we will find trees holding onto a single leaf clear through winter.

Winter is cold – but it forces companionship.  Winter is stark, but it reflects great beauty.

The interesting thing about life is that it is the first buds of spring that push off the final dead leaves.  New life begins again with renewed energy.

It is tempting, when people we love die, to curl up like a fall leaf.  A part of us dies.  We lose an important part of what makes us unique.  As we acknowledge what we have lost, we define who we are without those old leaves.  Just as a tree digs deeper in winter, building new strength for spring, this time of loss is also a time of depth and meaning.  As we define our new selves, we then find new direction, new energy.

Some seasons seem interminably long.  Every once in a while, we have a winter that seems unending.  Yet, the hard winter that stocks up snow in the mountains that give us lush, rich spring and summer without drought.  We survive these winters by looking at the positive – things go slower, so we have more time to enjoy relationships – we have time to reflect and learn new skills.  Spring will come again, but you can’t have spring until you have let go of the past and stored up through the depths of winter.

In loving memory of my mother in law, Jean Martinez.  1926 – 2010