Tag Archives: life

Adjust and Move On

When we moved from Minneapolis, MN, to Bismarck, ND, last year, we found a home super close to a grocery store. This means that I make several visits to the store throughout the week to buy only what I need. Because I work from home, I often run to the store on a quick break in the middle of the day. The employees there recognize me, and we greet each other and talk as “almost” friends.

Instead of a bar (hint: Cheers…cue music), I have a grocery store.

The other day, I discovered that I am not the only person for whom this is true. In fact, my guess is that there are several people like me.

The woman for whom I discovered this is true entered the store at the same time as I. She pushed a cart into the store from the parking lot and then switched to a scooter-cart once inside. We passed each other in the aisles as we circled the stores in a similar rhythm, and we left the store at about the same time.

As she transitioned from scooter-cart back to cart, an employee engaged her in conversation. Initially, it appeared that they knew each other from outside of the store; however, I soon realized that they had the same kind of relationship that I have with the deli person.

He asked how she was, and she shared about how her condition continued to deteriorate. She may be in a wheelchair at some point, but she does not know exactly when that would be. He made a comment similar to one I have made about how that must be hard or some other non-committal and non-engaging phrase.

Her response caught me off guard.

Before I go on, I want to step back for a minute. I have had some struggles in my life. I know many people who have struggled in their lives. I have watched some people handle things well, and I have watched some people struggle more than I thought they should. Just writing that sentence shows how I have a pretty judgmental side. Who am I to judge how someone else handles their struggles? All of that to say that I have seen others live out the principle that this woman stated, but I do not think that anyone has ever said it exactly the way she did.

“Well, you just adjust and move on,” she said.

What? Did I hear her right? Adjust and move on? I don’t think I have ever heard someone state a philosophy quite so well. No stages of grief exist in that philosophy. In her statement is an inherent drive to accept what is happening and to do so quickly. The statement defines a desire to live life as it is rather than wishing for something different.

Regret, denial, worry, and other such concepts steal today from us. When we spend our precious moments wishing that this moment would be different than it is, we lose the moment. It passes us by, and we can’t get it back.

I realize that our minds are all wired differently, and many of minds get in our way.  We trip over ourselves and get entangled in our thoughts.  I have no idea how long this woman has had the condition that she has had. Perhaps she struggled through some denial, depression, or regret in years past, but today – as her condition only seems to worsen – she faces it with strength.  She plans to adjust and move on.

Do not misunderstand the power of these two concepts together.  

This is not – as my huz would say – a “make like a Disney movie and ‘Let It Go'” moment.  It would be great if we could skip the adjust moment and go right to the move on moment. But that is not what this woman is suggesting.  Adjusting our thinking from what we thought would be to being able to move on to what is going to be requires intentional thought.

A couple of years ago, we took our then senior-in-high-school aged children to Europe as a last hurrah before they scattered into adulthood.  It was a great trip, and I would do it again tomorrow if someone handed me tickets.  On our way home, we made a connection that scared me to pieces.

I had never seen anything like it before.

As we neared our gate area, we suddenly found a wall of people all pushing toward one spot.  Airport officials had set up a moving passport check right outside of our gate area.  Passengers trying to get anywhere had to funnel into one area with a few checkpoints.  We shuffled forward, and time ticked onward.  It seemed our flight would take off without us.

This was not a high point in the trip for me!

I like control.  I like to know what is happening.  I like order, and I like logic.  There was none of this in this situation.  More than one of my family members worked to keep me calm.  As it neared departure time for flights, officials would call out the destination, and passengers would move to the front of the line.

There was nothing to be done.  A tantrum, screaming match, or breakdown would only make our situation worse.  In fact, we observed a man try those tactics – bad choice.

Adjusting my thinking to the fact that I would have to settle in, wait, and move on whenever the crowd permitted was not easy for me, but I did it.

We shuffled. We waited.  And eventually we were aboard our plane headed home after the trip of a lifetime.

Regardless of how drastic or simplistic the situation may be, we can apply the same principles and choose contentment rather than dread.  While many life circumstances are very hard, those who survive well seem to be the ones who can find the silver lining, make a change in their thinking, and accept what is out of their control as that.

How does this sit with you? New concept? Or old friend? I would love to hear from you!


Filed under faith, health, Relationships, Thoughts

When the Blog is Silent

I missed a post yesterday, and now it is Thursday. Tonight will be no better in attempting to “get going” on a post for tomorrow.  And the next month is crazy.

The funny thing is that I just signed up for a blogging class!  And guess what? The start date has been pushed out a week.  And I am so grateful.

Life is busy.  I have a full-time job, am a full-time mom (because we all are!), and have a lot of things going on in all realms.

I want to blog regularly, but that might not happen.  I will say this: I want to keep the Music Monday posts at a minimum. But I am not going to promise that either.

What I do promise is this: I will write blog posts when I can and when the fingers cannot deny what the mind requires.

So – if the blog is silent, this is why.  It is a priority, but right now it is one of the lower priorities.  This is just a season, and some day I will come back to it.


Filed under Thoughts

Where to Start?

I have started this post three times.  I have deleted those three posts.  They will never be again, for the words are lost and I have decided they are not for the ears of others.

Where to start?

I find that writing can be hindered by one thing: the beginning.  Often writing teachers will tell students to create and outline with the material for the essay – the body paragraphs being the most important. Once that outline is created, the introduction and the conclusion will be more obviously constructed once the bulk of the material has been thought out.  It seems to be true, and it can even be true of blog posts as I started with the thought below and now have constructed these opening thoughts.

Life does not start in the middle.

While it may be good advice to give to writing students to start in the middle rather than remain stuck on the beginning, that is not good advice in other areas of our lives.  Although I would prefer to start my day in the middle of it due to my distaste for mornings (well, really just getting up whatever time of day it happens), starting in the middle of my day is not very practical.  I must complete Task A before I go on to Task B because often Task B is contingent upon the success or failure of Task A.

This is true in many of our life tasks.

Go ahead – take a minute and think of some….

(Note: there will be no ending to this post. Why? Because life is still going on!)

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Re-Post: Sometimes You Can’t Keep Silent

marilynToday’s blog is not my own words but the words of a dear friend.  Thursday was her birthday, and she posted a beautiful blog that simply begs for re-posting.

Thank you, Marilyn, for not staying silent.

Click on the link to read her post: Sometimes You Can’t Keep Silent

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She Would Be 62…

Today is my mom’s birthday.  I wrote that sentence and immediately questioned my grammar.  My mom passed away eight years, eight months, and twenty-five days ago.  Today would be my mom’s birthday…if she were still here.  I did have to pause and count the years, months, and days.  I do not sit around keeping track of that on a daily basis.  From time to time, though, it is good to sit for a minute and count.  To remember…

Some days it seems longer than that; other days, it seems like just yesterday that I sat next to her bedside after she had taken her last breath.

Some people live life as if tomorrow may never come.  They throw all caution to the wind, and they live.  Before my mom’s cancer diagnosis (which came six months prior to her death), she already lived that way. There was always a new project, a new class, and a new friend.  After she died, I spent years cleaning out her belongings because there was simply so much to go through – halfway finished cross-stitching, crates of projects, and books…so many books.

When my mom died, she had come to terms with it.  She did not feel punished by it necessarily, and she did not exactly welcome it (although by the time it came, she had so much pain from the cancer that it was likely a relief).  But she had accepted it.  She had a strong faith that Jesus and had died for her sins and that she would go to heaven to celebrate life with Him.

Every once in a while, I ask myself if I have come to terms with her death and if I have accepted it.  I have that same faith; I believe very strongly that she will be in the presence of her Lord.  Having that certainty is comforting – no doubt – and I do not doubt God’s goodness just because she is no longer with us.  I do not understand why she had to die at such a young age, but I understand that we all do die.  I am not sure any of us die at the time when our loved ones think it is the right time.  I also do not think that a “right” time for my mom to die could have ever come.

Life does not stop just because someone passes away, but I think our current society does not know how to mourn well.  To a certain extent, I would like to adopt some of the Jewish customs of mourning.  I particularly would have appreciated the shiva time – the one week of mourning following the burial of the deceased.  During this time, extended family members and friends visit the home of the deceased where the first degree relatives gather for the week.  One of the most compelling parts (to me) of the shiva tradition is that those close family members of the deceased are not the one who entertain the visitors nor are they obligated to greet or talk to the visitors.

Those who visit do so to care by being present with those who mourn.

Ministering through presence to those who grieve also seems to be a lost art.  I do not do it well.  I want to speak words of encouragement or share from my own experience. I need to learn to shut up and sit down next to those in mourning and just be quiet with them or to listen…but mostly, I just need to allow them to be what they need to be.  Mourning has its own face in each of us, and we need to learn to allow those faces their places in our society.

Other parts of Jewish tradition concerning the death of parents that I feel particularly drawn to include those that commemorate the parent’s death each year in a special way – with a lighting of a candle or with fasting.  The concept of fasting on a parent’s “death day” makes me think of a way to empty myself once again, to remember deeply, and to then break the fast the next day and celebrate that life is still here and must be lived.  Pausing to remember is good.  Having time set aside to do this allows us to give mourning a place, to recognize it, and then to move away from it and continue to live.

In giving death its due recognition as something that happens, as something that causes pain to those who remain, and as something that we all will experience, we can learn to live.  Today may very well be our last – not because we have cancer diagnosis but because death can surprise us in any way.  Knowing that, recognizing that, and accepting that should free us to live.

What are you living for today? 

What life-changing, soul-inspiring, and breath-taking moment awaits you?

Even if she is not here, it is my mom’s birthday, and she would want us all to celebrate…


Filed under faith, Thoughts

Scrapbooking – Community of Memories

Every year for the past ten years, Village Creek Bible Camp has hosted four scrapbook/craft retreats. In the week prior to the retreat, the staff at the camp transforms the gymnasium into a work space for 110 women. Although the weekends are not billed as “women’s retreats” per se, there is something inherent about the subject matter that makes this event a female-only crowd.  Eight foot tables cover what normally is a volleyball/basketball court or floor hockey area.  The rock-climbing wall is completely blocked off from use by tables.

I love to spend a weekend each year with this group of women.

I am not a scrapbooker.  In the first few years after my mom passed away when all of her leftover scrap and craft stuff moved into my basement, I tried to like scrapbooking.  My sister-in-love and I even made a book of our kids for our mother-in-love.  This really showed me that attempting to make a square peg go into a round whole truly is a futile moment.  It just did not work.  I am not something…patient, maybe?…enough to do well at scrapbooking.  I also did not enjoy it.  Those are the two elements that need to occur in any activity one pursues: enjoyment and success.  If I would have had success, perhaps I would have enjoyed it more.  And I even would have persevered and tried to get better if I had enjoyed the activity…even without success. I simply did not accomplish either.

My name is Stacy Bender, and I do not scrap.

Although I have accepted that I am not a scrapbooker myself, I have several friends who both enjoy the activity as well as being successful at it.  They make beautiful albums for their children, their trips, and their families. These women tirelessly produce great books of memories.  They put pictures, journal pieces, and embellishments into their beautiful scrapbooks.  Because of my love for these women as friends, I choose to be with them on weekend events in the midst of their creativity while I do other activities such as blog or create presentations for an upcoming workshop.  Sitting around the table with them at these events has been a learning experience.

The group of women who tend to scrapbook together at these events at camp or on evenings throughout the year have created a community that celebrates accomplishments as well as mourns together.  They have seen children be born as well as pass away; they have seen children get married as well as have marriages fall apart; and they have watched as rebellious children graduate from high school and mature into wonderful adults.  As they sit around the scrapbook tables and ask each other for advice about color combinations, they share life, support one another, and pray and cry together.

Although I am not a scrapbooker myself, being with these women around the scrapbooking table helps me to understand community.  In the same way that pioneer women would have crafting bees, quilting evenings, and ladies’ aide meetings in their churches, modern women have “Crop ’til You Drop” nights.  I originally had written “Scrap ’til You Crap,” but that did not sound right on so many levels!  It would make a funny tshirt slogan, though!  On the outside, these evenings appear to be about finishing pages and creating books; however, once inside, it becomes clear that they are less about productivity and more about connectivity.

In a world that is becoming more and more fractured with relationships that are less and less authentic, this practice of coming together around a table filled with photographs and memories allows women to connect, share, and remember.  Whether through creating scrapbooks, taking walks, or sipping a cup of tea, we need one another to support each other and to celebrate with one another.  Life is hard; we need community to walk through it with us.  It not only makes it eaiser, but it also is the way that we were created.

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