Unchosen Changes

I think I am a person who craves consistency, which is to say I am not comfortable with change.  Why this is so, I can’t really say.  Now change is not necessarily negative, in fact change is usually proclaimed as positive and given the name of progress. Change is an inevitable part of life. The seasons change, taking us along with them, neither asking nor needing our consent.  Besides death and taxes, change is the only certainty, the remaining constant.

Recently this was brought home to me yet again.  I went to eat at one of my favorite little eating places in a strip mall only to discover a sign on the door saying they were no longer in business.  (not moved, just gone)  I don’t eat there very often (obviously or I would have known it was gone or going much sooner) but just knowing it was there if I wanted to meet a friend for lunch or whatever was comforting.  Now I felt let down, abandoned in a sense, something I counted on was no longer there for me.  ( I know, I know, there’s plenty more eating places to choose from, but I had found one I liked)

And having to part with my car of fourteen years when it officially gave out on me, was definitely an unchosen change.  I was content with my car, I was comfortable with it.  And they don’t make that exact car anymore so I couldn’t just replace it with a newer version.  (besides I didn’t want a newer version)  Let’s just say I still haven’t bonded well with my beloved vehicle’s successor.

Then they rearranged/remodeled my Meijer store without even so much as soliciting my opinion on the matter as their valued customer.  (or maybe I overestimate my value to them as a loyal customer?)  Anyway, I could get in and out of there in record time because I knew where everything that I typically bought was located.  I was comfortable there. That was before. Now I wander around looking for the most routine of items, trying to guess at the logic behind the relocation process of everything from shampoo to bakery goods.  Mostly, I am unsuccessful and leave frustrated without finding everything on my list.  I’m sure there was some very sound marketing strategy reason why they needed to play upset the apple cart with all of our shopping lives and limited time.

Did I mention the pumpkin patch I frequented for many years is now a field full of firewood for sale?  Or that my favorite community theater, where my children and I saw many a play is no more, but has relocated and has a new identity to match its’ new venue.  And where have all the goldfish that we used to feed in my favorite fountain pond gone?  When did they start assigning seats in movie theaters?  I have not moved in many years (does this surprise you?) but I have watched my beloved neighbors move in and move out, so the changes come through no choice of my own.  And I learn to love my new neighbors even as I miss those who have moved away.  Co-workers leave and new ones come to fill their spots. My children had the audacity to grow up, become productive citizens and leave an empty house in their wake.

My long time bible study group is disbanding as we are each being called in new and different directions at this time.  There was comfort in the consistency of these precious relationships, but constant change is the only constant.  Our presidents change, the weather changes, fashion changes faster than we can shop to keep up with what’s in for the moment and technology changes even faster than  fashion does!  Todays’ health food is tomorrows’ health risk.  My car wash even went from one lane to three lanes, not to improve service I’m sure, but just to torture me with having to decide each time which lane is my best bet to get through quickly.

I like the comfort of the consistent, the feeling of the familiar.  Some people might label the absence of change as monotonous or as boring.  But I am not one of those people.  My bank recently changed hands again, my church changed some things on their web site (after I finally figured out how to work what was already there) and my employer outsourced me and others to a new and different employer.  All changes I did not choose.  When I visit my hometown after a long absence, finding places and people unchanged is reassuring and reaffirming, as if all is right with the world because things are as I remembered them.  Something I can count on.

But it seems to me each day brings more unchosen changes into my life, causing me to question what or who I can count on to be there when I need the comfort the continuity of their presence provides.   I’ve had more than one favorite food place just disappear without warning leaving me wondering what happened.  And people are so mobile these days, we seem to come into and out of each others’ lives in a constantly changing pattern whose defining characteristic is constant change.

I’m so thankful I have chosen the One who never changes.  “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”  (Hebrews 13:8)

“I the Lord do not change.  So you, O descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed.”  (Malachi 3:6)

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, Who does not change like shifting shadows.”  (James 1:17)

” ‘I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God, ‘who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.'”  (Revelation 1:8)

“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.”  (Lamentations 3:22-23)

This is what my heart craves, the comfort of consistency that I can count on in a world where change is the constant, even when I don’t seek it or choose it.  My Heavenly Father tells me He will never leave me nor forsake me and He never slumbers nor sleeps.  I can count on Him,  He is faithful.  “if we are faithless, He will remain faithful, for He cannot disown Himself.”  (2Timothy 2:13)    My life will continue to be filled with unchosen changes every day, but I have chosen the One who never changes, giving me the comfort and peace of His constant Presence in this ever changing world.

sincerely,         Grace Day






prayer for today – a bridge

Lord, make me a bridge; bridges get walked on, that’s their sole purpose.  Let people walk on me, walk across me, to get to You.   And Lord, forgive me for those times when I’m a barrier instead of a bridge, for those times when I keep people from You and block their view of You, instead of providing a connection over whatever chasms separate people from Your love for them.   What joy to be a bridge used for Your good purposes.  I could want nothing more than this highest of callings, to lay down rather than to stand up tall and unmovable.  Yes, please Lord, let me be a bridge again today.  Let me be Your bridge, a bridge for You, a bridge to You.  in Jesus’s name, Amen.

sincerely,   Grace Day

Random Reflection for Today

Old is in!  (and has been trending that way for awhile, if you weren’t paying attention.) But how is this even possible in a youth obsessed culture such as ours?  How long has this been going on?

Consider what we shop for.  We buy “distressed” furniture, which is new furniture made to look old.  And we pay more to have our “new” furniture look “old”.  Vintage is in vogue and we value the look.  And jeans?  You’ve seen them, dear readers. They are everywhere.  The more holes, the more tears, the more faded or bleached they are, the more they cost.  This is true for other items of clothing as well, the more “distressed” the look, the higher the price.  We want our new clothes to look well worn.  And we’ll pay what it takes.  Apparently old has value (or at least the appearance of being old does).

So, I’ve decided I like this trend.  I want to go with the flow of popular opinion and see where it takes me.  Vintage is in vogue, right?  Vintage cars are supposed to be cool (as well as expensive).   So our wrinkles should be revered, not removed.  Our wrinkles proclaim our ever increasing worth to all who behold them.  We are becoming more valuable with each passing day.  And gray hair, well Proverbs 16:31 says it best; “Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained by living a godly life.”

So, put some dents in your furniture,  cut some holes in your clothes,  throw out the wrinkle cream and get rid of the hair color.  Old (rebranded as vintage) is in, so enjoy it!  And if you’re feeling or looking a little distressed, not to worry.  People are paying big bucks for distressed (as well as a pretty penny to de-stress, but that’s another blog post).  So enjoy every dent and hole you carry with you, dear readers.  They are your badges of honor. They are your reminders of what didn’t do you in, because you’re still standing.  They are your reminders of God’s goodness and mercy and deliverance.

“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”   2 Cor. 4:17

sincerely,       Grace Day





Left with a legacy of love

I’m missing mom again today, although as I mentioned in a recent post, its been five years that I’ve had to get along without her.  I ate at one of her favorite places yesterday and that brought back a lifetime of memories, which explains my current reflective state of mind.  My dear friend’s mom went on to heaven as well in the last few years.  I was at the celebration of this special woman’s life and knew then, although we had not met, that she and my mom would have been fast friends had they not lived in different cities but had the opportunity to know each other as my friend and I do.

They shared the same values of faith, family and friends first, self last.  They lived their lives based on these values leaving a legacy of love in their wake for us to follow.  And I am grateful for that legacy as I find myself living in a “me first” world that would deceive me into agreeing that this is the path to fulfillment, but for their example to remind me otherwise.  I refer to them as “Sunday School ladies” when my friend and I reminisce about our moms. But I don’t mean it in the way SNL  portrays someone they give that label to.

No, these were real women who lived their lives with courage and quiet strength every day.  They lived out their lives in the context of community, a community they created in their church and in their neighborhood by their steadfast commitment to serving not only their families and friends but those in need and those outside the confines of their immediate circle.  In Sunday School they studied God’s word together, learning lessons they would need to enable them to live the extraordinary lives they led.  In the context of worship and prayer they formed the friendships that would sustain them through the inescapable challenges that come to each of us, friendships that would last a lifetime.

Perhaps because neither of our moms moved around during their lives, but lived in one place for the entirety of their lives, their roots were able to grow down deep, resulting in deep friendships and a deeper, more lasting impact on the communities where they lived and served.  I love that my mom was still doing “Meals on Wheels”,  ( a service she had been instrumental in bringing to her community) at a time when she herself could have benefited from the service.

Which reminds me of another shared characteristic, these women didn’t give up.  They were not quitters. They were steadfast, in it for the long haul no matter how hard things got.  Unlike today, where at the first sign of trouble or difficulty, so many of us bail out. They did not disengage, they kept on showing up.  That’s called being faithful and it comes from having faith.  Yes, the “Sunday School ladies” I knew were tough, contrary to popular opinion.  And they were accepting and inclusive, not judgmental as the stereotype would have us believe.  They were the ones bringing meals, visiting the sick, collecting clothes for those who needed them; reaching out to others in all kinds of tangible ways that truly made a difference in the lives of those fortunate enough to know them.

Our moms persevered through life’s losses, heartaches, disappointments, difficult days and turbulent times providing stability for our families in an often chaotic and ever changing world.  They met hate with love and intolerance with acceptance. Without using words,  our moms taught us how to live.  Words weren’t necessary when they were here with us, their actions spoke clearly and eloquently and the “fruit” of their lives continues to reveal itself to me as I reflect on Mom’s legacy to me.  It’s a legacy of courage and compassion, of persistence and patience, of service, sacrifice and selflessness, and finally of family and of faith.

In these days of division and demeaning discourse, which the media keeps ever before us, lest we actually be left alone to experience our own reality and lead our own lives, I take hope from the stories of our moms and the lives they led.  One was a beautiful black woman, the other a winsome white woman.  Both left us, their fortunate daughters, a legacy of love that lasts beyond their years and will last beyond our years as well.  With God’s grace, my friend and I will persevere and pass their legacies on to our own daughters and so our moms’ legacies of love will live on in them.

“She is clothed with strength and dignity; . . .  Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: ‘Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.’  Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.  Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.”  (Proverbs 31:25-31)

miss you mom,        sincerely,      Grace Day








Cat Wars

No this is not some kind of political statement, this is a personal reality in my home. Yes, I deal with NRAS on a daily basis.  Not familiar with this malady?  Neither was I for most of my life.  You see, we had always been a one cat family.  Both my childhood family and my family as an adult counted only one cat among our members.  And all was well.  Then my youngest daughter decided our current cat, who was getting older, needed a companion and playmate to keep her company.  (why didn’t I suggest fish or even a bird to fill this role?)  Because I had no idea, that’s why.

And so it happened that we acquired a kitten to go with our cat.  A cat, by the way, who had expressed no such desire and who had not been consulted on this matter of adding an additional family member.  So we brought our new little calico home from the shelter and all was well.  For about three years.  Then, without warning, one ordinary day, amidst ordinary events, it happened.  NRAS entered our home and remains to this day.  And things have never been the same since.  Total peace has never been restored and I fear will never return here.  Oh, there are temporary truces, so deceptive in their appearing.  They get my hopes up that all will be well from this point on, only to be dashed as skirmishes resume when my guard is down.

Now the ordinary event that was the beginning of this now ongoing saga, was a routine trip to the vet for annual shots by one of the aforementioned felines.  Imagine my surprise when upon returning from the vet, these two former friends began behaving like mortal enemies, ready to battle to the death if not for being separated by myself, now thrown into the role of referee.  I was unprepared for this strange turn of events and called my vet for advice.  That’s when NRAS was explained to me.  This malady is “non-recognition aggression syndrome” in cats and my cats had it bad!

Now I always thought cats had pretty good eyesight, could even see well in the dark.  So what could be the problem?  They could see each other, couldn’t they.  Why didn’t they recognize each other?  We hadn’t been THAT long at the vet.  Were their memories THAT short?  Is it only elephants that never forget?  Did they have no memory of all the good times they’d shared up to this point?  (Bird watching out the windows, chasing and playing hide and seek with each other, eating out of each other’s food bowls)  I pondered these questions as I watched in disbelief as their growling and hissing toward each other continued to escalate, reaching truly alarming proportions.  Memory for them seemed to have been erased, the slate wiped clean.  We were starting over and this time they hated one another.

I was told it was smell they were reacting to, the one that had been gone smelled different so the other no longer recognized her.  Again, I wanted to reason with them.  “Use your eyes, I wanted to shout, you can clearly see each other, who cares what you smell like?”  Apparently, our calico cared and our snowshoe concurred and reacted. “You don’t remember me?  well I don’t remember you either”  With cats, smell must trump vision every time, I concluded.  “You’re the intruder, no you’re the intruder”  was my interpretation of their loud discourse.  The peace in our home had been replaced with this ongoing battle and with my constant vigilance to keep them separate and safe from each other.

This really was a full time job in and of itself, but I don’t know who you delegate this job of delicate, full time diplomacy to?  And what would be the job title?  “Feline Negotiator needed now, must speak fluent feline.” And so life continued with the waxing and the waning of the feline feud, presenting innumerable challenges and keeping us on our guard at all times.   An initial cooling off period was achieved by moving one cat to her own “apartment”, a separate room behind a closed door.  (let them growl away with the door between them)  Next came supervised visits with each other, gradually lengthening over time.  Tensions would ease and some semblance of peace would be restored.  Hope hung in the air at such times, heralding the end of the Cat Wars.  But then it would be time for one of them to visit the vet for their required annual shots.

Back to square one and the process would start all over again.  Why wouldn’t I just let them fight it out?  you might ask.  Although this occurred to me as a possible solution, I didn’t want to run the risk of harm to one or both of them.  Because ironically, that would result in more visits to the vet, which is the root cause of the NRAS for my cats in the first place.  Cat Wars are wearisome because they are never ending and because they result in litter box wars, which results in never ending cleaning problems and work for me.  Another reason I desire peace on the feline home front.

Why is this on my mind currently when its been going on for quite a few years now? Well, the older cat, the snow shoe,  is sick and going to the vet more often now than just the once a year check up.  Medicine and tests are taking place with diagnosis to come soon.  So the Cat Wars are on for sure and she doesn’t feel well.  I am battle weary but have not found a Feline Negotiator at this time.  Again, wish I could reason with the Calico and tell her to drop the “tude” for awhile, cut her feline friend some slack so she doesn’t have to be looking over her shoulder 24/7.  What price peace?

Will she miss her snowshoe sister when she’s gone?   Will she remember?  (apparently not, or this syndrome wouldn’t be happening)  Do I do this with people?  Do I react to anything that “smells different” from what I’m used to or doesn’t agree with me and fail to recognize all the good and potential that resides within them?  Fail to recognize all the unexplored connections that I have with others?  Do I fail to recognize because I fail to see, or more truly, I fail to look beneath the surface.  I don’t take the time, I don’t make the effort?

If I want peace, I need to seek it and pursue it and practice it in my personal life every day.  It is a choice.  It will require some effort, but anything worthwhile does come with a price.  The Cat Wars have not consumed me, but to me they seem so inexplicable.  I want to shout to my cats, “you can clearly see each other, you are both cats, you have the same needs and I can meet all your needs plus more without giving less to the other.  There is no reason for you to fight when you could enjoy peace.”

Is that how God sees all of us?   We are all human, we have the same needs for food, water, shelter, health, meaningful work, meaningful relationships, safety and peace for ourselves and our children, etc.   Is that what God would shout to all of us, that He wants to supply all our needs, that we are more alike than different because we are all created in His image, that we need to open our eyes and truly recognize our kinship with those around us.  We have mistaken them for foes when we were created to be friends.

“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.  Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath . . .”  (Romans 12:18-19)

“And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 4:19)

“After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. . . ”   (Revelation 7:9)

“Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.”  (Psalm 34:14)

sincerely,     Grace Day