Mischievous Chris

Several years ago, a gentleman named Chris came to work at our company as an intern over the summer. He was so disabled from cerebral palsy that a caregiver came in daily. Chris was in a motorized wheelchair and wore a leather strap around his head called a ‘halo’ so he could type on the keyboard. It was pretty sad. I was uncomfortable around Chris for quite a while. I simply had no experience with someone with cerebral palsy, their slurred speech, involuntary movements, etc. I discovered that Chris had a cheerful spirit and a good outlook on life in spite of his disability. I never heard him complain.

I simply must tell you about an incident where Chris was very mischievous. Another co-worker, Mike, was a serious individual who had a bad car accident a few months prior that left his back compromised. One day when Mike stepped away from his desk, Chris noticed, turned to me with a huge grin on his face, and laughed mischievously. Oh, man. What was he going to do? I was afraid if Chris pulled a prank on Mike, that Mike would get mad, because he could be pretty intense. Chris went up to the back of Mike’s chair and pulled it towards his desk with his feet, motioning for me to be quiet. I played along with Chris’ prank, and when Mike returned to his desk, I pretended nothing was wrong. Finally, Mike found out what Chris had done. Now what? How would Mike react? Mike seemed surprised and even amused at Chris’ prank. He wasn’t upset or anything. He got his chair back, and all was well.

I was relieved Mike took the prank so well, and the incident seemed to strengthen the friendship Chris and I had started to develop. In the short time he was with us, Chris won me over with his cheerful, upbeat nature. He was a delight to be around, and it challenged me to not take myself, or life, so seriously. With Chris’ help, I was finally able to look past his disabilities and my discomfort. I still think of Chris from time to time, and I hope he’s doing well. I wish I could say I have been cured of being too serious, for that is not the case. But, I am learning slowly, and I guess that’s really what matters.

Copyright © 2016 by Theresa M. Williams

America the Beautiful?

As I was singing “America The Beautiful” in church last night, I was struck by what words didn’t move me to emotion, that usually do, and what lyrics I most concentrated on. When I sang the song, I didn’t feel the pride in our country that I would like to feel, that from a person who served in the military. When I sang “a thoroughfare for freedom beat,” I thought ‘freedom for who and for how much longer?’ Our country advocates freedom for those who would break God’s laws, but for those of us who want to keep God’s moral laws, we are treated like outcasts and accused of hate. Oh yes, we are still free to go to church, but heaven forbid if we speak out against sodomy and abortion, if we as Christians advocate for prayer and the Bible, and if we are not politically correct!

The words that struck me most in this song were “God mend thine every flaw.” Our country has lots of flaws. We live in a society whose moral compass is broken and in need of repair. How long will God shed His grace on us as a country if we ignore His commandments?

I’d much rather think of beautiful, spacious skies, amber waves of grain, purple mountain majesties, and fruited plains than our country’s flaws. But, for mending of those flaws, we must pray fervently so we will continue to be a free country, that our country be pleasing to God once again, and that He may shed His grace on us. Please pray for our country and have a safe Fourth of July, and may He shed His grace on you.

Copyright © 2016 Theresa M. Williams

How did it happen so fast?

I can’t believe it’s June already. It seems like it was just January. Time has been getting away from me lately. Would you believe Kevin’s 10th ordination anniversary is this month or that we’ll be celebrating 38 years of marriage later this month? Wow! I’m reminded of the words to a song ‘Longer’ by Dan Fogelberg:  Longer than ther’ve been fishes in the ocean, higher than any bird ever flew, longer than there’ve been stars up in the heavens, I’ve been in love with you. Stronger than any mountain cathedral, truer than any tree ever grew, deeper than any forest primeval, I am in love with you.

I’ll bring fire in the winters.’ You’ll send showers in the springs. We’ll fly through the falls and summers with love on our wings. Through the years as the fire starts to mellow, burning lines in the book of our lives. Though the binding cracks and the pages start to yellow, I’ll be in love with you. I’ll be in love with you. Longer than ther’ve been fishes in the ocean, higher than any bird ever flew, longer than there’ve been stars up in the heavens, I’ve been in love with you. I am in love with you. Songwriters: DAN FOGELBERG © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC For non-commercial use only.

The part that really gets me though is where Dan talks about comparing our life to a book, about the binding cracking and the pages yellowing (must be referring to wrinkles). I must say though I don’t believe Kevin’s and my fire has started to ‘mellow.’ Kevin and I think it’s so neat to be married to our best friend. With another couple we know, the wife has told me her husband is her best friend. That’s heartwarming.

Another song we sing at Mass talks about weeping, laughing, sharing joys and sorrows ‘until we see this journey through.’ Certainly we do that daily. Our marriages are sanctuaries (or should be), a place where we can go even if the world crumbles around us. It should be a place where we feel safe and loved. I’m grateful for every day with Kevin. I realize the older we get that someday we’ll leave earth and join the kingdom of God.

It amazes me when I hear older folks state they wish they could go back to their younger years—not me! I really don’t care to repeat my previous years. I figure I’ve earned the right to be right where I’m at. I don’t want to try to have a family, attend college, find a career, you name it. I hope to retire someday, and I look forward to what lies ahead, but I’m not in a great hurry to get there; it’ll come soon enough with all its challenges, effects of growing older, friends or parents dying, and other things. (Some of this has already happened.)

I look forward to growing older with my best friend, my spouse, and I want to take life as it comes and enjoy as much of it as I can, while I can. I’m sure it probably won’t be easy sometimes, but I’m sure going to try anyway! How about you?

Copyright © 2016 by Theresa M. Williams

Entombment of Stress; What’d those pork chops ever do to you?

Did you know that stress comes in two forms? It does: eustress and distress. Eustress is the good stress, the kind we need to get and keep motivated. It provides incentive to get the job done. It spurs us on to action, to accomplish things. Everyone needs a little bit of stress in their life in order to continue to be happy, motivated, challenged and productive. It is when this stress is no longer tolerable and/or manageable that distress comes in. Distress is the bad stress we have. It’s when the good stress becomes too much to bear or cope with. Tension builds. There’s no fun in the challenge. There seems to be no relief, no end in sight. This is the kind of stress most of us are familiar with, and this is the kind of stress that leads to poor decision making. Stress can be really sneaky. It’s not always obvious to us, or others. It can build up slowly, like magma in a volcano. It can even explode on us and onto others when we least expect it—again, like a volcano. Stress is dangerous and entombs us. We are ‘bound’ like Lazarus with the ‘ribbons’ of distress. Lazarus couldn’t move because of the burial wrappings/ribbons. Likewise, stress can incapacitate us and hamper us in our ability to function. Distress affects our health, our emotional state, our relationships, our jobs, ministry, and other areas of our lives.  Physiological symptoms of distress include an increase in blood pressure, rapid breathing, and generalized tension. Behavioral symptoms include irritability, overeating, loss of appetite, drinking, smoking, and negative coping mechanisms. To read more, https://brocku.ca/health-services/health-education/stress/eustress-distress.

A dear friend of ours, whom I shall call Percy, recently exhibited distress with a co-worker by ‘going off on them.’ It surprised Kevin and I to hear about this because Percy is a very calm person. He smiles an awful lot, and I don’t think we’ve ever seen a scowl on his face or heard him raise his voice. My husband is a lot like this. He rarely gets upset, but when he does, look out! It takes people like Kevin and Percy a while to build up to outbursts and anger, but when they do, it’s very distressing. You know it took a lot to get them that upset, and you hate to see them in that state. I had a co-worker who was like this. Her name was Mary Alice. She was so upset about something one day that, when tenderizing pork chops for dinner that night, she tenderized them so much you could almost see through them! I heard about this the next morning as I checked with Mary Alice to see how she was doing. She was able to laugh about the pork chops then, but I guess you could say she took her distress out on those poor pork chops. A few days later, I jokingly asked her if she had any more pork chops for dinner, to which she laughed and said no. It was such a joy to see her laugh again. I hope Percy can relieve his distress so he can go back to work and be happy. God bless you Percy!

Copyright © 2016 by Theresa M. Williams

Serving the Needy

Just what does it mean to serve the needy? Let’s explore the definition of needy: A) not having enough money, food, etc., to live properly. B) needing a lot of attention, affection, or emotional support. When we think of the word needy, a lot of times we think of the first definition, of the poor, not having enough. But, there is a lot to be said about the other definition (B) as well. Recently, I have found myself frustrated by a co-worker who is very needy. In Randy’s* (not his real name) case, he needs a lot of things done for him. He has no dedicated administrative support, so my boss and I do that for him. (I work as an administrative assistant at the front desk and am an hourly employee.) Randy has come to my desk first thing in the morning before I even get my things put away or go to the restroom or right before I am due out the door for lunch. (I have to take my lunch at a certain time to provide proper front desk coverage.) He acts as though a lot of things are an emergency and demands I do things for him right away. He doesn’t seem to understand that I work for the rest of the office too (more or less). I have had to set boundaries with him and others in the office that I will be happy to discuss what they need after my lunch hour or when I start work. (I haven’t implemented the second part yet, but it’s coming soon!) I am reminded of an article I wrote some time back regarding a previous job where I either couldn’t or didn’t set boundaries. My female co-workers were even asking me for things after I went into the restroom! (Really?) At my current job, I have a very supportive boss, and she has basically told me it’s okay to set proper boundaries, although that’s not quite how she phrased it.

While it’s important to be gracious, it doesn’t mean we let others take unfair advantage of us. Knowing our physical, emotional and spiritual limits is helpful too. Setting boundaries is important. It can even help us retain our sanity! While on earth, even Jesus intended to set limits on his availability. He often went away by himself to pray. That’s a form of boundary setting.

How do you set boundaries for others? Is it by implementing ‘house rules’? For example, if you make a mess, clean it up. If it’s hungry, feed it, and so on. If you want to share how you set limits for others, please tell us about a boundary you have set—maybe even what prompted you to set it—and how it turned out. As always, please share respectfully.

Copyright © 2016 by Theresa M. Williams

‘Twas the night before the move

‘Twas the night before the move, when all through the place

People were organizing the stuff in their space.

The stickers were placed on the crates with care,

In hopes that Cabro soon would be there.

 

The admin was busy, packing ahead

While visions of stickers danced in her head.

Gail and I in t-shirts and jeans,

Were determined to make moving happen, by whatever means.

When out in the hallway there arose such a clatter,

We sprang to our feet to see what was the matter.

Into the hall we flew like a flash

To discover the crates had taken a crash. Nothing was damaged, neither human or crate.

I returned to the mailroom as the day was getting late.

Please help me get down some frames with the casters.

If I get them myself, it’ll be a disaster.

Sure thing! my co-worker said, and he lifted them down with relative ease.

Where do you want them? In the mailroom please!

 

Pack the pens. Pack the trays.

Pack them all kinds of ways.

Pack the envelopes and the labels.

Don’t forget to label the tables!

 

In with the folders

And the label holders.

In with the CD mailers and the ink.

As I pack, being short stinks!

Pack the water and the snacks.

Hear the rollers go clickety-clack.

 

Pace yourself and take a rest.

Eat a snack; that would be best!

Then pack the mailroom and the breakroom; don’t forget GIS!

Last but not least are supplies for FedEx and UPS.

At lunch, my co-worker turned with a jerk.

‘This microwave doesn’t work!’

Why take it with us

If it’s causing such a fuss?

I told him it wasn’t my call

About whether we should leave it in the hall.

 

Working in the mailroom, it got so hot.

I put a fan in a wonderful spot.

I turned it on, felt a wonderful breeze.

Gail came by and did tease.

You look like Wonder Woman with your hair a fluff.

The fan makes your hair do funky stuff!

 

Theresa, reserve the SUV.

For progress on Red Oak I must see.

Take some photos, I pleaded.

I wonder how much work is still needed

Before we’re cleared to move?

That, the builder has to prove!

 

Finally, I saw our new mailboxes are tall,

I have to be careful I don’t fall

Because on a step stool I will be

For the top bin, I must see!

 

The mover told Gail: Call as much as needed.

This advice, she gladly heeded.

We need a crate our legal folders will fit.

The red crates he brought were certainly a hit!

 

The movers worked and filled all the rooms

With boxes we readied, most by Thursday noon.

They sprang to the truck,

We wished them luck

As they fit things in our new space.

While they set a fast pace, it wasn’t a race.

They strove to get it right

With their muscle and might.

I heard them exclaim as they drove out of sight,

Happy moving to all and to all a good life!

Copyright © 2016 by Theresa M. Williams

 

Transfigure us, oh Lord

The word transfiguration is defined three ways: 1) A complete change of form or appearance into a more beautiful or spiritual state. 2) Christ’s appearance in radiant glory to three of His disciples (Matthew 17:2, Mark 9:2-3, Luke 9:28-36). 3) The church festival commemorating this.

A few weeks ago, our choir sang a special song for the Feast of Christ’s transfiguration. It’s a pretty song that I can’t get out of my head. It talks about breaking the chains that bind us and following where Christ leads us. This song is appropriate for other days in Lent as well, not just for that feast. Isn’t being transfigured or transformed really what Lent’s all about anyway? I will concentrate this article regarding the first definition above with an emphasis on “a more beautiful or spiritual state.”

Lent gives us a focused opportunity to be transfigured into an improved spiritual state by more prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. I like to refer to spiritual improvement as “polishing our halos!” A halo is a disk or circle of light surrounding or above the head of a saint or holy person to represent their holiness. Our light from our halos gets dimmed by our sins, so we have to ‘polish’ ourselves spiritually to let our light of holiness shine. Matthew 5:14-16 states: You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden.  No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.

There are lots of other manners in which we can be transfigured. We can make use of the sacrament of reconciliation. We can break ourselves of some bad spiritual habits. We can read the Bible and listen to what our Lord is trying to say to us through it. We can offer to help someone carry their cross by becoming a prayer partner with them for their intentions, needs, and struggles/difficulties. Maybe you can think of some other ways to be transfigured.

Some questions to ponder: How has my halo gotten dimmed by sin? How am I being transfigured this Lent? How can I let my light shine brighter for others? Have a fruitful Lent!

Copyright © 2016 by Theresa M. Williams