It’s been a year since I started writing this blog. I began not knowing exactly where I was headed….or how committed to it I was going to be…or even having any idea of how to write a blog at all! I have a problem with self-discipline when it comes to writing (why I hadn’t really written much of anything since college) and wondered if I could do it. But friends had been encouraging and I decided to try. My goal was to share what I was thinking…to live out loud, was how I put it then. I’ve thought about that commitment a lot and at times had to remind myself not to censor myself. Sometimes I had to confess to things I would prefer to keep to myself. But I think it is important that we share our lives with each other….and though hiding is easier, it keeps you from owning up to your personal truth and making changes. I think there also comes a point where keeping things to yourself is selfishness….shouldn’t we allow people to learn from our mistakes? Shouldn’t we humble ourselves on occasion? I don’t do it enough, but still….I try!
I don’t really write this blog for others. I write for me….and use it as a way to articulate and manage my thoughts. I need to do it whether anyone ever reads it or not. Still, it is fun to hear someone has read it and appreciated it. People I never imagined reading my blog have brought it up out of the blue, and shared their thoughts about it. That has shocked and delighted me. Some people have talked about it with their friends or family, or even shared one that is particularly meaningful to them on their Facebook page, and that has touched me each time. It’s a cool thing to think you provoked thoughts and discussion.
But don’t worry…I am retaining my humility. Some of the people who love me best have never read it at all. I was a bit sensitive about that at first, but have learned to simply be amused by it. Most don’t because they use their phone more than their computer and it’s just too difficult to read by phone. And I do tend to be a bit long winded. And I do not keep my opinions to myself, so those close to me have heard enough of them. It’s particularly funny when someone else brings it up in front of one of these people. They always look a bit perplexed like they are thinking “What’s a blog?” or say “I’ve been meaning to read that.” To my knowledge most still haven’t!
Sometimes I have given opinions knowing people I cared about would disagree with them. Since I have a diverse group of friends and family, it would be impossible not to so that doesn’t concern me much. Most people never tell me when they disagree with me, of course, this being the nature of most Southerners. I actually wouldn’t mind a bit more discussion coming back my way, since I am interested in what other people think. I don’t have the power to change your mind….you control that. But in case you were wondered whether you disagreeing with me would set me on edge, the answer is no. I don’t change my mind purely because someone tells me how I should think or feel or be… and I don’t expect you to either. But I do change my mind because I hear a point of view that resonates and inspires and helps me see something from a different angle I hadn’t considered before. In fact I change my mind often….and plan to continue doing it for the rest of my life. It’s a lazy mind that doesn’t change, I think, and my mind is one part of me I don’t want to be lazy!
A few people have told me that something I have written has made them think about an issue differently. I really didn’t want to write about Amendment 1 when it was up for a vote in NC, but finally felt that I had a different viewpoint than I had seen and it would be wrong if I didn’t write about it. It’s interesting….more people have read that blog than any other one I wrote. It could be because I called out my dear friend Al Godley in it (which I admit, maybe I shouldn’t have done…..though I did it knowing Al would not be bothered by it, and also be somewhat proud of getting a rise out of me. And I was right….that was one of my blogs that Al shared on his Facebook page. Al is somewhat unusual in his perspective and that is one of the reasons I have loved him for so long. He has the gift of provoking. Which can be good and bad…but is always interesting!)
My hope is that the reason that is the most read entry is it is because people aren’t as closed minded about issues as it sometimes appears they are….and they are willing to consider thoughts that aren’t quite as black and white as their own on an issue. I’m not overly optimistic that is the case, but I hope so!
I like that another of my most popular blogs was about the Ku Klux Klan rally in Harmony. I am passionately opposed to racism, and while I have no clue as to what side of the fence those who read it stand on, I hope it caused anyone who judges people by their outer shell to think. My prayers are for those who judge people by the color of their skin and not, as Martin Luther King so eloquently put it, by the content of their character. I know God, who created all of these wonderful colors and shades, hates that they hate this glorious rainbow of creation in His image, and often do it in His name.
(Note: You can see the “most read” entries on the sidebar of my blog page. Some of those are my favorites, too, so it is fun when I hear someone enjoys one of them.)
It has been a good year for me in many ways, a sad and frustrating year in others. Besides my first blog entry, that discusses the death of one of our beloved balloon pilots, I have written blogs following the death of two other friends this year. In case you wondered, writing about someone who you will not see again on this earth is a definite way to work through your grief. You end up celebrating their life more than mourning their death….and when it gets down to it, isn’t the most significant thing that they lived and we were blessed to know them?
I did skydive in 2012, as I had said I wanted to in my first blog, with the big encouragement and great teaching of my friends Damien and Amanda. Damien somehow got me to agree to a static line jump instead of my goal of a tandem. He was right. I did want to fly more than I wanted to ride a roller coaster. When it got down to it, scared is scared, so why not try to go beyond your own comprehension? Amanda gave me the confidence to think I could actually do it. For both Damien and I, I think this jump was a tribute to his dad. I still think Ed would enjoy that I went where I never, ever expected to go and that his son was the one to push me into it. I hope to continue to bust my own ideas of who I am and who I can be. When you are trying to do this, you need good friends to encourage you. I have a fortune in these type of friends. Scares me to think of what they will come up with next…but I am probably game!
And speaking of those kinds of friends, my friends Joanie and Patsy have been big encouragers to me in my quest to get in better shape by running. What fun they were to have at my side when I did my first mud run. We laughed and laughed and simply had a blast together. We have plans to do several more fun races this year…my first 10 k over the Cooper River Bridge in Charleston next weekend, a Zombie Run, the vibrant and colorful glow-in-the-dark Electric Run, and another mud run. If it is fun, you almost forget your body can’t do it! My niece Spenser and friend Mandy are doing the Transformation Nation Triad program at the Y with me, under the tutelage of our awesome trainer Casey. The encouragement and the laughter continues. I remember every week how far away from being in the kind of shape I want to be in that I am, but also I realize how very far I have come!
Since my faith is the center of my life, you hear a lot about that in my blog. Once again, I hope I live it out loud…..the struggles, the frustrations, the joys, the triumphs, the nuggets I find in scripture, the moments where I see God at work, the times I take the time to pray and remember to look for answers and celebrate when I get them. There’s no such thing as a “good Christian”…it’s against our nature. We are perfected as we stand behind Christ and the cross, but ourselves…..we remain big fat sinners. I probably should be more ashamed of that than I am….but the fact remains that God uses big fat sinners to do big fat world changing things. I want to be like David or maybe Isaiah….in spite of myself jumping up and down saying “Lord, pick me!”
When I realized my blog anniversary was Easter, I realized the personal significance. I serve a God that is alive. He wants my life to be the same….and as active as I may appear, that will always be my struggle. Sometimes I just seem to go through the motions and forget to really live life well. I don’t really want to waste a minute of the possibilities…..but know often it requires work and the desire to move when I would rather waste my time away!
In that first blog I included these verses from Ecclesiates 3:
“There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race.
He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart;
yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.
I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God.”
If I read these verses and say “This is life”, I think I can say that most days this year I did live. As I look down the list, I experienced everything in these verses. But I still have work to do. I am still not where I want to be or should be. But I am confident that God is alive and vital and perfect. He is risen, indeed. As for me me, as I begin another year of blog writing, I will continue to rise up and to fall down….and hopefully I will share openly as I do so. I will eat, drink, and work and seek satisfaction in all three. I will make every effort to realize that this life is a gift. To be opened and examined and enjoyed and used.
If you are reading this, thank you for listening to my thoughts. My prayer for us all is that all that is imperfect within us will be reborn, and a new being will arise daily. That we will find the truth that makes sense of it all. That we will live with all of the power and freedom and purpose that God has given us and that we will love God and this life with a strong passion. That we will be purposeful. That in spite of the dirt, in spite of the sweat, in spite of the tears, in spite of the obstacles, in spite of the pain, in spite of the criticisms….we will not give up. That we will allow ourselves to be changed and used. And while it may not always be smooth sailing, that we will realize we are not the captain, but just a grateful passenger privileged to be along for the glorious ride.