Word Up Wednesday

Word Up Wednesday: Don't Give Up by Donna Olivia Owusu-Ansah

As promised, I am continuing Word Up Wednesday by featuring reflections written during my Clinical Pastoral Education Internship. The following was written in April 2015. Again, Scripture was added and minor edits made to be shared here on www.reverendmotherrunner.com

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
— Galatians 6:9 (NIV)

A few weeks ago, I was visiting a patient in rehab. During our time together, she shared her life story with me and specifically the illness that caused her hospital stay. Towards the end of our conversation she said something, words that I will never forget, This patient, tired after just returning from therapy and resting up for another round of therapy in a few short hours said, “The hardest work I’ve ever done is not giving up.” She was having physical discomfort, but she was tireless. She was being stretched beyond what she thought was imaginable, but she was resolute. She had a dogged strength within that kept her going to make strides in her health. It wasn’t easy, but she was persistent. It wasn’t without pain, but she was determined. Above all, this tenacious patient wanted to be well and was committed to not giving up on her health and herself.

Her spirit brought to mind a quotation from author Harriet Beecher Stowe. She wrote, “Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.” My patient was correct, not giving up, when circumstances are difficult and we grow weary, is hard work. But Stowe is also correct. What if the very moment we are ready to call it quits is the moment when we will begin to see positive changes in our situations? What if the very moment we are ready to throw in the towel is the moment when there is progress made?

Image from www.pexels.com

Image from www.pexels.com

Have you ever been in traffic? I have. It’s a trivial example, but I often get impatient when I am stuck in traffic on the highway, especially if I am pressed for time and have someplace I need to be. I have been stuck in a lane that is not moving. A lane that I’ve been sitting in for a while, going nowhere fast. And I decide to switch lanes. I’ve given up on the lane I am in because I’m not making any progress in reaching my destination. And the very moment I switch lanes, traffic begins to flow in the lane that I was previously in. The cars that were behind me in the lane I was in are now breezing past me, passing by as I sit—absolutely still--in a new lane. And if I had waited another moment, another second, I would have been on my way, moving in the direction of my destination.

Not giving up requires patience. Not giving up requires strength. Not asks us to be still, trusting that progress is being made even if we cannot see or feel it. Not giving up is hard work, but if we hold on, we just may be at the point of a turn in our situation.

Will you pray with me?

Gracious God, there are times when we find ourselves in difficult situations. We have difficulty in our families. We have difficulty with our health. We have difficulty in our places of employment. We see trouble and distress in our world. These situations sometimes cause us to be faint of heart and physically exhausted. We grow impatient. Give us, we pray, a tenacious spirit, to keep on going, when the going gets tough. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.

Word Up Wednesday: Knowing My Name by Donna Olivia Owusu-Ansah

Our names hold significant value. In some cultures, children are named after great people from family history or cultural history. In some cultures, children are named after great figures in religious history. In some cultures, children are given names that have a particular meaning. Whether we are named for someone in the past, our names have special meaning, or our parents chose a name that they simply liked, we are known by our names. 

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Word Up Wednesday: Dandelions by Donna Olivia Owusu-Ansah

As promised, I am continuing Word Up Wednesday by featuring reflections written during my Clinical Pastoral Education Internship. The following was written in April 2016. Again, Scripture was added and minor edits made to be shared here on www.reverendmotherrunner.com

 

You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
— Psalm 16:11

One of the things that I love about Spring is how beautifully pleasing this season is to our eyes. With the clear blue sky as a backdrop, in the Spring we see lush green grass. In the Spring we see beautiful blooms of purple and blue hydrangeas, yellow and red tulips, and pink and orange daisies. In the Spring there is beauty all around us.

In the Spring, as life blooms all around us, we also see yellow dandelions. I mention the dandelions, because I can recall, growing up in an urban environment very different from the suburbs of Edison, that dandelions were my absolute favorite flower. I remember being a child, walking home from Lincoln Elementary School, being enamored by these bright yellow flowers that sprung forth, not only in the grass, but in the cracks between the concrete of the sidewalks. I would pick them, and put them in my hair. I would pick them, and offer them as a gift to my mother after a long day of work. And the best part about the dandelions is that, when the yellow flower died, the white remains provided great fun for blowing. My friends and I could be occupied for long amounts of time, picking dandelions, blowing the seeds, and laughing hysterically as we did so.

It wasn’t until I was older, working at a prestigious school with lawns that were always perfectly manicured, that I learned that dandelions were not flowers to be coveted, but weeds that were a nuisance. One day, as I was walking across campus, I saw the head of school furiously and fervently picking dandelions from the grass. Dandelions that were a source of joy for me, were taking away from the school’s neat and perfect appearance. Dandelions that I once offered out of gratitude to my mother, were being plucked and tossed into the trash. Although dandelions have positive properties, most notably in the United States they are considered a noxious weed. They are an annoyance in residential areas and recreational fields. When there is an infestation of dandelions, they can cause significant damage to crops, which also has an economic effect.

But still, dandelions are a source of joy and fun for me. For a time, I had once abandoned the joy I had for dandelions, seeing them—through the eyes of others—as a noxious weed. But two years ago, when my first daughter was about one year old, as she was getting steady on her feet, we were out walking in the grass in our neighborhood. The exuberance she had from seeing, picking, and playing with the dandelions was refreshing. I was tempted to stop her. Dandelions are weeds, after all. But as she shakily made her way from dandelion to dandelion she smiled and giggled as if she had discovered a most precious gift. Some months later, we reveled in blowing the seeds of the dandelions into the wind. As she discovered the joy in dandelions, she helped me to rediscover my own joy. 

Image from www.pexels.com

Image from www.pexels.com

I was reminded of this today, because as I walked from my car to the hospital entrance doors, I noticed some dandelions on the grass. The dandelions, for me, are a reminder to remain true to my sources of joy. The dandelions, for me, are an invitation to see things through my own eyes, without letting the perception of others, influence my joy. What brings you joy? What makes your heart smile? What stirs up delight in your soul? Today, I invite us to revel in the things that bring us great pleasure, without letting the opinions and influences of others strip us of our joy. 


May I share a prayer with you?
Wonderful God, you are the Ultimate source of our joy.  Open our eyes to see joyous sights. Open our ears to hear joyous sounds. Open our hearts to receive joy. When the responsibilities of life seek to erode our joy, let us be ever mindful not to abandon the people, places, and things that bring us joy in our lives. Use us, we pray, to bring joy to the lives of others. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.

Word Up Wednesday: Light by Donna Olivia Owusu-Ansah

As promised, I am continuing Word Up Wednesday by featuring reflections written during my Clinical Pastoral Education Internship. The following was written in December 2015. Again, Scripture was added and minor edits made to be shared here on www.reverendmotherrunner.com.

The Lord is my light and my salvation—
    whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
    of whom shall I be afraid?
— (Psalm 27:1 NIV)

About two months or so ago, as the days began to shorten, when I picked my 2.5 year old daughter up from daycare she would say, “Mommy, no dark. Mommy, no dark.” Mommy, no dark was her way of expressing the disappointment with the shorter days. In her world, the darkness took away her opportunity to play out-side after a long day at school. Each and every day, up until about a week ago, she would say, “Mommy, no dark” as if I had the power to make the sun shine again.

But then something changed. On our drive home from school one day last week, she noticed a house decorated with lights. “Mommy, look” she exclaimed! Lights! A week has passed, and she no longer laments the darkness. Our drive home has taken on a new dialogue:

“More lights?” she asks. 

“Yes, honey,” Mommy will show you more lights.

Wow! She screams out, as we pass a house with flashing white lights. “More lights.”

“Yes, honey,” Mommy will show you more lights.

“Ooooh. Boo-tee-ful. More lights.”

This goes on as we make a circle around the neighborhood viewing about six more houses.”

“One more and then we have to go home. Mommy has to make dinner and get you and your sister ready for night-night.

“Okay,” she says.

Image taken from www.pexels.com

Image taken from www.pexels.com

If you think about it, the darkness has not changed. But my daughters wonder at the beauty in the midst of the darkness has changed her lamenting into joy. In this life, we will experience situations and circumstances that are full of despair and disappointment. As trained as we are in this room, in our humanity we still feel the pain and sadness of death. In our lives outside of work, we also bear burdens and heaviness and great responsibilities that can overwhelm. Surely, lamenting is an appropriate response. But I wonder if in the midst of our lamenting, as we sit in spaces of disappointment and despair, that we might begin to see that there is indeed beauty and wonder all around us. The darkness does not change, but in the midst of it, light is always present.

Let us pray...

Gracious God, we are grateful thankful that you are our Light in the midst of darkness. Shine in us, around us, and through us as we move about our daily lives. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.