Love Never Ends

This will be my first Mother’s day without you. The last time I held you, you died as we tried to save you.   Today I can’t call you to wish you happy mothers day, but I have the memory of all those times I did – and when you called for birthdays, special days, and ‘I miss you’ days.

‘Love never ends’: You loved us every day of our entire lives. You taught us to love – to love God, each other, our neighbours (you could – and would – talk to anyone in the street, supermarket, cafe …). You taught us –  we love because you loved.

I don’t love as you did: when it comes to loving I have an exception list.  But every time I talked to you about someone I struggled to love, my exception list grew shorter.  You made me see people differently.

Yes, there are some things we never understood about each other – we both changed and grew: Never apart, just differently.  When I was a child, I learned from you; as I grew up, I used that knowledge to make my own way in life.  And so it was love that held us together when I joined the Methodist Church, when you went overseas following Dad, when our family moved to Auckland and then on to Melbourne.

Like trying to fix your hair when the mirror is always fogging up, we don’t  always see clearly, we don’t always understand.  I suspect that you can see clearly now; knowing and being known fully, completely now that your race has been run. Or walked, in your case.

I can’t forget that last night I held you, Mum, as we tried to breathe life into your dying body.  But there is So Much More that you have given me to live, love and believe.

‘And now faith, hope, and love are alive; and the greatest of these is love.’

With a nod to 1 Corinthians 13.8-13

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living in exile

To the exiled children of God,
who feel there is something wrong in this world,
Beloved, Sons and Daughters of the living God
Welcome home.

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To those who struggle to find place for their faith
among so many unanswered questions –
When the God we were promised doesn’t deliver what
we expect
Welcome home.

To those who struggle with life
living with broken lives and families
and when all you expected of life
is torn away from you.
Welcome home.

This may not be the world you expected
or wanted
Beloved, Daughters and Sons of the living God.
But with God’s love,
and a community of grace
together, we can make it
Home.

with a nod to a prophet called Jeremiah who offered hope to people forcefully removed to a new home (Jeremiah 29:4-7, the bible)

Welcome! 

Loved, Welcomed, A seat at the table, a place in the lounge

The front door is open.

Drop your shoes at the door – the weariness of the journey;

Drop your bag in the hall – alongside other’s burdens

See the smiles of welcome and acceptance.

For at this table

In this place

With this host

You belong.

Seeking Stillness

Sometimes I seek stillness.
Sometimes it finds me.
(stillness)

And sometimes in the busy-ness of each day
S/stillness is the furthest from
my heart.

Rest
-less.
Restless.

So sometimes I need to take my soul
and put it firmly in its place (!) A
place
moment
room
chair
or a patch of grass
(in the shade of that tree),
… and lose the ‘less’ in my Restless.
(Seeking less ‘-less’ and more R/rest)

In those moments
the door/window/tent-flap of my soul
needs to be opened again. Wide open.
(vulnerable)

In that moment my heart might just open to
honesty
learning or growth.
Open
to the gaze of Love
and Grace
and delicious Peace.

And gaze of One
who loves me more than
I can ever imagine.
(loved)

And I find my self with less -less and more R/rest

Seeking Stillness
(Stillness, Rest, Vulnerable, Loved)

Race Preparation tip #13: Don’t Burn

It didn’t get beyond 18deg C yesterday – I swear. But after doing drinks duty at my running club, I went out for my weekly long run – 25km. It was a beautiful day with sun shining, and a cool breeze in the shade at 11am.  Today my shoulders are red!

After months of winter running in sleeves (often with gloves), my pasty white shoulders must have been a glaring shock for the poor riders/walkers and children  walking the Dandenong Creek Trail (“Tommy, don’t stare at the poor old man with the pale and hairy arms!”).  I’m normally careful about sunburn – melanoma and I are not friends! But yesterday I didn’t think I needed sunblock. I was wrong!

Marathoners can be out there for 4-5 hours … and it could really warm up by midday on Melbourne Marathon day! So here are some ‘sun-tips’ for runners.

  1. Get a Sport sunblock – it stays on longer with sweat. SPF 50 is a good number – you are NOT out there to get a tan, people! (And they have expiry dates for a reason – it pays to check them!)
  2. Use it! (and keep it with your daily running gear, alongside the Sweet Cheeks)
  3. When applying sunblock pay attention to the backs of your legs – especially the tops of your calves and near your sock line – shoulders, the back and sides of your neck … and don’t forget your ears.
  4. When putting it on your face DON’T put sunblock on your forehead. When you sweat it will run into your eyes … and that’s just painful to think about (I’ve been blinded more than once!) You are better off wearing a cap or visor. If you put sunblock on your nose and under your eyes do so lightly … and remember its there. When you wipe sweat off your face, you can run the sunblock back into your eyes!
  5. In summer you can get burnt on overcast days and later in the morning.  If you are out after 10am in training or race day, get lathering!
  6. Speaking of sweet cheeks, in the heat your chafing parts will chafe! Lucas Pawpaw ointment is good, but Butt Butter is better (see what I did there!) as it is not petroleum based.
  7. Get some good sunglasses. If you get sport-specialist ones they should not fog up, and they will stay on your face even when you have sunblock on your nose!  Mine have interchangable lenses, meaning I can use them in various levels of light.
  8. Run in the shade if it is sunny. If you can choose your training route, chose the shaded side of the street. On race day try to run in the shaded part of the course (This is true for Melbourne as well as Gold Coast marathons).
  9. Keeping a Thir Band / Buff on your wrist is good for mopping up sweat and stray liquid sunblock.

None of this will stop Tommy staring at the blanched athlete gliding past at a snails pace, but it will mean you won’t suffer the next day … giving Tommy’s mum an object lesson in sun-care.

Running tip #12: Be a sun-smart runner.

Freedom

Freedom: It’s an app! (kindof).
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Last week Michael Hyatt suggested that many of us are too easily distracted by blogs, TGIF (twitter, google, instagram, Facebook), and even email. We interrupt ourselves flitting from one to the other, and then attempt to justify it by calling it ‘multi-tasking’. To focus on one thing at a time, it was suggested, creates clarity and discipline as well as freedom in thinking and creativity.  Some of my friends have  no problem with social media distraction – they just go and bake something (its called Procrasti-baking) or hit the garden or gym.
It turns out there is an app for the social media version! Its called Freedom. Now I’m not selling software, nor am I yet sold on this app. But I’m using it as part of my discipline. Freedom enables me to shut off any website (or group of websites) for a fixed period of time. I can do it adhoc (30 minutes starting now) or schedule it (no social media access after 9pm!) I can set it up on my computer, and at the same time control the same accessibility on any of my devices (iPhone, iPad, etc). So when freedom is activated and I go to Strava, I get a beautiful message – “You are free from Strava.com”.
My fascination in this exercise is to see if I can generate my own discipline of focus.  But I know myself well enough – I need help to get started!
The Lifehack article from Vironika Tugaleva at Urban Spiritual (http://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/freedom-self-control.html) gave me more insight.  “… self-control means soul-in-control. It means allowing the most authentic, pure part inside all of us to lead. …  We all deeply crave to live life doing what we want, when we want. I think the reason that self-control seems to be the opposite of that is that many people are not in touch with their deepest desires.” Vironika’s insights about taking time to know our deepest selves, about Mindfulness and the reality that our (shallow) addictions are connected to our deepest desires, give a lead to how we discover more freedom.
However sometimes consistent changes to single behaviours are the best starting point. Like forcing ourselves to click “start session” in Freedom!

Hard work!

Rant Alert: In 1987 Rick McKinney (US Archery champion) sat with a group of us over lunch at the NZ national archery championships. I asked him what it took to become an Olympian. He said, “It’s lonely. You have to give up everything that’s not your sport – social, eating what you want, nights out with your mates and sleep-ins on cold mornings. And there are no guarantees you will achieve your dream. But you will do something you can be proud of – your very best!”
So here’s my thoughts about the current debate on medal tallies.
It is shamefully disrespectful of any athletes to hang national medal expectations on them. They have worked hard for very little reward to get to Rio (most train on the back of full time jobs or study); they have given their best, training in heat and cold and rain when most of us are still in bed; given up social opportunities night after night for several years; they compete for their country with pride – in spite of drug cheats, selfish IOC and event officials, and insensitive reporters. Many achieve personal bests and new national records against other athletes who have themselves improved over the past 4 years. There are no guarantees of medal or even competing in finals.

Yes there is disappointment at a collective drop in performance – but please be sensitive to the women and men who have given and done things that none of us can imagine.