Singing Over Us

IMG_5329Almost every day I enjoyed the privilege of putting my granddaughter down for her nap. Sometimes we read a book (or two or three). Sometimes I sang to her. Sometimes, both.

I used to struggle with the verse, “The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” Zeph 3:17

Not anymore. Not since singing my little Clara to sleep. For some reason, when I began to sing to her, she stopped fussing. She put her head down on my shoulder and listened. I cold feel her body relax and she would close her eyes and soon (sometimes later than sooner) be  asleep. Sometimes I would think she was asleep and when I began to move her to put her in bed, in a sleepy voice she wold say, “Keep singing, Grammie.”

And so, I did.

I was talking to a friend not long ago. A friend who has Parkinson’s disease and who was struggling. We do that every now and then, you know – struggle. I was trying to encourage her fraught spirit and we started talking about the verse above from the book of Zephaniah. I told her what I’ve told you thus far. Then I told her what God has taught me through singing to little Clara.

God tells us that He is with us. He has told us that He will never leave us – in our weariness, when we are burdened, weighed down, under pressure, stressed, under attack – you know – just plain wiped out physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually. He has the strength and desire to save us from all that begs to destroy our well-being. Why? He delights in us. He derives pleasure in taking care of us. It brings Him joy and gladness. He revels in doing things – just for us.

He will quiet you with His love… When Clara would lay her head down, I would rub her back and sing to her. She knew she was loved. A child will have difficulty falling asleep when they do not feel safe or loved and they feel safe when they know they are loved.

We are no different. We feel safe when we know that we are loved. We are able to rest – to lean into the Lord and let go of all the things that this life can throw at us. We can rest our head on His shoulder and know He will take care of us and in that, we find comfort and peace.

He will rejoice over you with singing… What a picture this brings to mind. A newborn baby – being cradled in her daddy’s arms as he sings over her with an inexplicable love and inexpressible joy. This is how God looks upon His children and that blows me away. He knows us each by name and loves us with a love that is so unfathomable, we cannot comprehend it. He rejoices over us and delights in us with singing, as a new daddy with his precious newborn.

I don’t know about you, but that makes me smile. It also makes me sleep just a bit more peacefully.

Does My Life Matter?

Green_Dogwood.JPGSometimes I don’t know if it’s me or if it’s me with Parkinson’s that causes me to dwell on death at times. I sometimes think ‘today is the day it will end.’ The day it will all be over.

Is it just me? Is it the disease? Is it me with the disease?

I watch a video of a man who, as he pans and photographs the Hawaiian coast with his drone, asks the question over and over, “Does your life matter?” I sit and watch as the drone flies over alcoves of paradise and his constant question causes me to wonder, does my life matter? Has my life mattered?

The drone skims the water, rushing upon every hue of green that is scattered upon the island foliage.

Does my life matter? The thought whispers into my brain again. Has it mattered at all?

Somehow, I ran across Davis Phinney’s site. Phinney was an Olympic Bronze Medalist in the 1984 Olympic games. Phinney has Parkinson’s disease. His ‘slogan’ for his foundation is, ‘Live Well Today’.

Live well today. TODAY stands out to me like a flashing light. It’s not a question of if my life has mattered. All that matters is today. Yes, I want my life to have mattered. I want to live today so that my life didn’t just take up space, but made a difference. I can live with the fact that life is short and this may very well be my last day, but I find it difficult to live knowing that someday I will stand before my maker, aware of what I needed to do or could have done to make a difference but neglected to or chose not to do it.

It is often easy for me to get caught up in a ‘do good’ mentality, thinking all the good I do will please God, but there is no merit that can satisfy God. It is not works that save me, but grace. I matter not because of what I have done or will do, but only because of what has already been done by Christ on the cross.

So, yes, my life matters but I need to remember that it good things, good works, good deeds – they’re all good, but they are worth nothing without Christ.

Top Regrets at the End of Life

There was no mention of more sex or bungee jumps. A palliative nurse who has counselled the dying in their last days has revealed the most common regrets we have at the end of our lives. And among the top, from men in particular, is ‘I wish I hadn’t worked so hard’.

Bronnie Ware is an Australian nurse who spent several years working in palliative care, caring for patients in the last 12 weeks of their lives. She recorded their dying epiphanies in a blog called Inspiration and Chai, which gathered so much attention that she put her observations into a book called The Top Five Regrets of the Dying.

Ware writes of the phenomenal clarity of vision that people gain at the end of their lives, and how we might learn from their wisdom. “When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently,” she says, “common themes surfaced again and again.”

Here are the top five regrets of the dying, as witnessed by Ware:

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

“This was the most common regret of all. When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it.”

2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.

“This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret, but as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.”

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

“Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.”

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

“Often they would not truly realise the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.”

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

“This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content, when deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.”

What’s your greatest regret so far, and what will you set out to achieve or change before you die?