~ notes from an uncommon journey ~

Favorite Finds: February 2013

Here are some of my favorite finds this month:

Favorite glorious photo set (of my own favorite photography subject): The sky, from boston.com's The Big Picture:

Hat tip: Sarah Bessey.

Favorite Facebook status, from Michele Neff Hernandez (President and Executive Director of Soaring Spirits Loss Foundation and creator of Camp Widow):
I think I will always be kind of awed by the idea that I loved Phil to the end of his life. As much as losing him still hurts, I am honored and proud to have been his love to the end of his days. Every once in awhile this knowledge strikes me, and I realize what gift I was able to give him. If you have loved someone to the end of their days (whomever and whatever their relationship to you) know that your love mattered. Being loved right to your last breath is an incredible blessing.

Favorite show of courage and vulnerability in service of a greater good: What Could Have Saved My Brother From His Mental Illness by Rachel Hollis:
She feels impotent and frustrated in the face of a disease [mental illness] she has no experience with and beyond me, she doesn't know anyone else who does. She told me yesterday: "If he had cancer or heart disease, I feel like I could talk about it with other people and find support. But I'm terrified to say anything, I don't want them to think this is all he's ever been... he used to be so much more."...57 million people in this country are suffering from variations of the same disease and we're not talking about it. [emphasis hers]

Favorite post on mental illness by a Christian: Finding God in a Little White Pill by Amanda Williams at A Deeper Family:
It’s funny how the Gospel that embraces the weak with sure hands, that binds up brokenness and grants access to the Holy One without a secret password, can be twisted into religion that claims weakness as lack of faith.

I thought that was it. I was doing it all wrong. I’d prayed and prayed and prayed, but could not dig up the answer. I’d asked God through earnest tears to help me fix myself. It took me years to understand the irony.

Favorite new poem: Forgiving by Alise Wright:
I thought that forgiving you
would be a one time event.
We would embrace
and I would softly whisper in your ear,
“You’re forgiven.”
Then we would shed a few tears
and share a few laughs
and things would be normal.
We would be okay.
But it’s not been like that.

Favorite warning: When Things Get Weird at Church, by Allison Vesterfelt at Prodigal Magazine:
Things didn’t start bad with Jim Jones’ church. They got bad over time. And it made me think about how things can deteriorate when we stop asking questions.
Hat tip on the previous two: Preston Yancey.

Favorite reminder: So you’re feeling too fat to be photographed . . ., by Teresa Porter:
Isn’t it amazing we can see the beauty in our best friends, sisters, mothers, and aunts without the slightest thought to their flaws . . . but can obsess for hours on our own imperfections? We fixate on our flaws to the point we shirk at any documentation that our round faces and curvy bodies ever walked the earth. No pictures to show how we LOVE, how we laugh, how we are treasured by our families. How is it possible that a double chin can overpower the beauty of a mother cuddling her child? How does arm fat distract from the perfect shot of a spontaneous hug?...So you’re feeling too fat to be photographed? . . . Ok. But you’re the only one who notices. The rest of us are too caught up in loving you.

Favorite response to (others') fat shaming: Fat Shaming Doesn't Work -- Here's Why by Brittany Gibbons at Huffington Post:
Reminding me I'm fat, threatening me with being bullied because of my weight, providing me with no fashion options, shaming me at restaurants, mocking me on national television; that didn't scare me into thinness -- it locked me in a closet with my emotions and a secret stash of food.

Favorite posts about faith and doubt: Spiritual Journey: The Mad Season, by Addie Zierman at How to Talk Evangelical:
To the one who is angry: you get to be angry.

You are not late or behind or wrong; your struggle matters. Ask the hard questions, the ones with the sharp edges. Sometimes they are the truest ones.

I want to say to you, Angry One, I know. I want to say take your time.
Even here, you are Beloved. Especially here.

And “Don’t Tell Anyone” – Jesus’ warning against always expressing right belief, by Michael Kimpan at Red Letter Christians:
Jesus seemed quite comfortable with people following Him, some for long periods of time, while simultaneously being uncertain as to His divine nature. Jesus didn’t correct them or chastise them for not ‘getting it‘ – in fact, He told the disciples not to tell anyone once they did!

And I Wish I Didn't Have Faith by Zack Hunt at American Jesus:
I’m willing to bet if you’re a Christian, there are many times when you feel the same as I.

When you have doubts.

Tragically, doubt is an unwanted guest in much of the church today, particularly amongst those who call ourselves evangelicals. In the face of historical criticism, scientific breakthroughs, and the arrogance of fundamentalism, we are left thinking that doubt is the opposite of faith. Doubt, we are told, is the weapon of the enemy. If we allow it gain even a toehold, then the enemy wins and the Christian faith itself will come crashing down.

What we need instead is faith.

But faith is not a vaccination against doubt.

It is the embracing of it.

Favorite post about the dangers of public shaming:  There Has to be a Better Way by Luke Harms at A Deeper Family:
We, as a community of faith, have so distorted our notion of love in the context of parent/child relationships that we have become enthusiastic endorsers of what essentially amounts to parental cyber-bullying.

Favorite way to realize that I really do (sometimes) compare my pain to others' (ouch): Somebody's Princess at theWiddahood.com:
I was sure MY STORY was much more aweful [sic] than anything they could imagine....

Favorite harmony-between-the-sexes report: A message that made my day... from Rachel Held Evans:
[M]y friend had been the mastermind behind the whole project: he picked out the flowers, got our teacher’s approval, and recruited his fellow senior boys to help deliver them. There was no ego involved; the boys simply wanted to humbly affirm their female classmates and sisters in Christ. For many girls, Valentine’s Day normally involves copious amounts of insecurity and anxiety, but instead I saw many smiles as girls walked down the halls with their flowers. Today, women of valor were honored by MEN of valor.

* * *

What's your favorite thing that you've read or written lately?

R.I.P. Joseph "Doc Joe" Franz, June 17, 1952–January 22, 2013

This week I learned the devastating news that my doctor, Joseph "Doc Joe" Franz, had passed away.

Doc Joe was so much more than my doctor. Even to call him my friend isn't quite right. He was almost like a father figure in my life. He didn't just care for me medically, he cared about me personally. A line from his obituary reads, "Doc Joe was a compassionate and caring man who treated his patients as if they were family." I am here to tell you: this is true.

The first time I met Doc Joe was many years ago, when he treated me at an urgent care place. (I had a different regular doctor at the time.) I left with one of his business cards. Some time later, when I couldn't get in to see my regular doctor, I looked up Dr. Franz. I discovered he had his own practice, so I went to see him for whatever my concern was at the time. In that visit, I ended up telling him about some of the difficult things I was going through. He sat with and listened to me for half an hour, and not once did he look at the time, tell me he had other patients he had to get to, or hurry me along in any way. I left his office thinking, "I'm going to him from now on!" And I did. I had my other doctor transfer my records to his office, and he was my doctor from that day on.

We talked often about my struggles. And many times when we did, he'd use the analogy that I was lost in a forest...just trying to find my way out, to the sunshine. It was apt.

I remember how sad he was for me when Ron passed. He said something to the effect of...he'd seen me already go through so much, and things had just started looking up. Yeah, no kidding.

And I can't forget the day I told him that I suspected I was hypothyroid. As I've said before, he surprised me with how open he was to listening to my symptoms and the research I had done. Being on thyroid replacement therapy has done a lot of good for me, and I owe that in large part to him.

I've already thought many times about how I can honor his memory. What can I do specifically to pay tribute to his spirit? But it pretty quickly came to me: I can determine even more to finally, fully find my way to the sunshine.

My life is forever enriched for having known Doc Joe. There will never be another like him.

* * *

Doc Joe: You were a bright spot in my life. You cared for me and you cared about me. I can never thank you enough for that. I promise you: I will find my way to the sunshine. The rays have started to peak through (thanks in part to you), but there's still work to be done. I'll remember you when yet again I'm tempted to give it up. Someday, I'll be dancing in the clearing, bathed in the sunlight...and I'll remember you then too.

Tell Ron how much I miss him.
© A Road Less Traveled

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