Tag Archives: redemption

A New Lease On Life

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Redemption, salvation and Holy Week…

Recently at my workplace, a meet & greet happened with some program hosts.  This kind of event happens from time to time when one works in media/television.  Rarely will I go and wait in a line to meet people, unless I am a fan of their work.  In this most recent case, I did, because I am.

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I am pictured above with Mike Whiteside and Robert Kulp, owners and proprietors of Black Dog Salvage in Roanoke, Virginia, and hosts of the DIY Network television show, “Salvage Dawgs”.  Their business and the program revolve around their occupation (and sometimes adventures!) rescuing architectural elements, windows, lighting fixtures and other features from buildings that are about to be torn down.  These salvaged items are either sold as-is, or repurposed into new home decor or garden pieces.  These fellows and their team do great work,  “Saving pieces of history, one salvage job at a time”.

When it was my turn to meet them I expressed my appreciation for the work that they do, and they told me that their business and their philosophy is all about salvation and redemption.  I looked up at them both, smiled and said “Who among us DOESN’T need salvation and redemption?!”  And they smiled and agreed with me.

During spring and especially Holy Week, my thoughts naturally turn to those very themes…salvation, redemption.  When we trust God with the mess and brokenness we often make out of our lives,  He saves and redeems us, polishing and fashioning us into repurposed creations.  He makes all things new.  Never is this truth more evident than at Easter, the celebration of the moment in history when the world turned upside down, when death died and love LIVED.

I give thanks for reminders of salvation and redemption from all kinds of places…from nature, literature, art, music, and even do-it-yourself television programs.

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Broken Ground

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The 15th anniversary of 9/11…

I remember the events of 9/11 as vividly as if they occurred yesterday.  We all do.  My closest connection with the tragedy was the fact that my brother, Reed, was caught up in it.  He worked for American Express in the World Financial Tower, which was very close to the WTC towers that were destroyed that morning.  Like many other families, we watched the footage unfold on TV, horrified by the images bombarding us.  And like many other families, I and my loved ones anxiously waited to hear from Reed, praying that he was safe, at least physically.  We were among the more fortunate families, hearing from him hours, rather than days, after the towers fell.  I was working for the local Fox TV affiliate at the time, and I reported to work that afternoon, thankful that Reed was out of harm’s way, and surrounded by my work family as we all watched the horror replayed for hours on end while news people and experts tried to make sense of it all.  Our boss, Tom, my friends Larry and Dan, and I, kept master control running that day and into the night.  One of my clearest memories of the day was when Dan’s sister came by that evening with her baby boy, and she let me hold him.  Cuddling that sweet child comforted me, reminding me that God is still at work in our world, and that life indeed goes on.  Dan told me on Facebook that his nephew has his learner’s permit to drive now, and that he has been told the story of how he blessed me on 9/11.

The world seemed to break that day.  Buildings, peace, faith, even the very earth underneath the city.  Broken ground.

Flash forward 15 years, and I am sitting in a church service at Ebenezer United Methodist Church where I have just recently accepted a call to sing and serve, leaving behind a church I have served since 2013.  The decision was not made lightly or without deep soul-searching, consideration and prayer.  On the 15th anniversary of the broken ground of 9/11, my new church family celebrated the groundbreaking of a new sanctuary, welcoming me into their heritage.  The significance and timing were poignant and emotional for me.

At the end of the service, we each received a river stone symbolic of “raising our Ebenezer”, then went out onto the lawn to stand where the new sanctuary will be built in the days and months to come, to pray for God’s continued blessing on the church family, and to break ground.  As I took my place on the lawn with the rest of the choir, I noticed something at my feet that has become a meaningful symbol of God speaking to me…

 

I hollered at my friend Marc to show him the feather, and he said, “That’s just like something that would happen to you!”  I replied, “It’s more like something God would do,”.  Then he and I dug into the dirt and celebrated the same blessed peace that holding that sweet baby 15 years ago had given me…that God is still at work in the world, and life indeed goes on.

My Hundred Pound Present

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A reminder of the miracles of weight loss…

For anyone who may not be aware, I underwent weight loss surgery on June 6, 2012.  The process for this was a long and arduous one, filled with moments of both humility and humiliation.  As I wrote elsewhere, the hardest part of the whole thing was making the decision to do it, because I had to “suck it up and get humble for a minute”.  Admitting that I needed help was a difficult thing, but, as most weight loss surgery patients will agree, it really was my last resort.  After battling my weight for decades and finally deciding one last time to begin exercising and eating more wisely, I started that process only to lose 9 pounds before getting stuck and then injuring my “good” ankle (the “bad” one having been broken years before and then surgically reassembled).  Weight bearing exercise was impossible and I realized I needed a drastic intervention to help me reclaim my health.

Surgery prep happened during the same period I was completing an extended unit of Clinical Pastoral Education at our local teaching hospital.  The timing was totally a God thing, and I am convinced that each effort enhanced the other.  My unit of CPE placed me in a peer group of strangers who poured unconditional acceptance and support into me throughout both my hospital experience and the concurrent surgery preparation, becoming treasured friends and chosen family by unit’s end.

My hundredth pound came off on January 6, 2013, which in the church calendar is Epiphany.  That’s one sure way I’ll always remember the date, because it was an epiphany indeed!  It was also my 7-month surg-i-versary.  More pounds came off in the months that followed, and I was grateful for every one of them.  I still am, even though I have experienced some “bounce-back”, as many weight loss patients do.  I am working to get the pounds I want rid of to go away once more.  It’ll be a lifelong process, as will blood tests for nutrient levels and tweaking my nutrition.  I knew going in that these things would be part of The New Normal.

I decided I wanted to treat myself to a Hundred Pound present, to commemorate my journey and to have a tangible reminder of God’s faithfulness along the way.  So the search began for my chosen symbol, a small diamond cross pendant.  I knew what I wanted, and as a lifelong jewelry horse, I was a pretty savvy shopper.  It took a while to find just the right thing…but, like losing that hundredth pound, it was worth waiting for.

The thing is, I’ve never been one to wear a cross.  For a long time, I just couldn’t bring myself to wear the symbol of crucifixion.  I realized over the years, though, that the cross is a symbol of faith, hope and new life, not just a picture of Christ’s torture and death.  What better symbol could I choose to remind me of my own hope and new life than that?  And what possible symbol could be a better reminder of God’s constant companionship, comfort and help along the way as I adjusted to The New Normal?  What better reminder of second chances and redemption?

Because, for me, the weight loss journey has been very much a spiritual odyssey.  There has been a lot of prayer, especially during those early days after surgery, when my recovery took longer and involved a lot more pain than I had anticipated.  There have been many long nights of the soul when I cried and leaned into God because I had come to the end of myself.  And as I have experienced bounce-back and regained a few of the pounds I had lost, there is renewed prayer that God will help me minute by minute to make wise choices, and that He will comfort the hurting places that I want to feed with unhealthy foods.

I wear my cross often, usually paired with a diamond heart that Sweet Pea gave me for our 15th wedding anniversary.  My fingers find their way to my charms throughout the day, touching them and remembering the love, comfort and hope they represent.  Thanks be to God for second chances!

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