Tag Archives: relationships

Love=Noticing

It’s Valentines Week, the time of year when we become Love focused for a bit. Some people feel sad during this time if romance isn’t in the picture. That’s unfortunate and it seems far more productive to focus on just upping our love game in general.

Lately I’ve been writing and speaking about the art of noticing.  I’ve declared that in my new life part of my job description now is be a noticer.

I started with creation. I noted that the sun rises and sets daily and maybe I should just watch and notice that more.

Then I realized all of creation is filled with beautiful and stunning things worth noting. I read somewhere that when we pause notice any part of creation it is as if we are worshipping God.

In a devotional reading this week, Oswald Chambers wrote The prophet Isaiah made people look up at the heavens in order to use their imagination properly. If we are children of God, we have a tremendous treasure in nature and will realize that it is holy and sacred. We will see God reaching out to us in every wind that blows, every sunrise and sunset, every cloud in the sky, every flower that blooms, and every leaf that fades. My Utmost for His Highest

Spiritual people are called to see with imagination what cannot quite be seen.  What if nature is infused with God’s unseen presence and signs? What if our job was simply to notice?

I imagine the call to notice extends to other living creatures as well. When my dog wants a pet she rolls onto her back, hoping I’ll notice. People crave being noticed and seen. Jesus was particularly good at seeing people.

Maya Angelou once said, Your eyes should light up when your child enters the room. I wonder what would happen if our eyes lit up when anyone entered the room?

I see you sunrise, sky, flower and tree.  I see you daughter, son, spouse and grandchild. I see you, dog needing a pet and hungry family struggling to make ends meet.

I see you person sitting alone or clenching your teeth in the grocery store line.  I see you person with hands and plate full.

Love doesn’t have to be overwhelming. It begins with noticing.

Dr. Cindy Ryan is a pastor, wife, mother of three, Mimosa to Keller, breast cancer survivor and noticer.

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Whispers

I never knew why older people cried at weddings. It seemed obvious to me that it was  a happy time. I didn’t get it.

I met Julie when I was an 18-year-old freshman at Texas A&M. We decided to be roommates the next year and have been close friends since then.

I’ll never forget the day I picked her up from her workplace for lunch. My newly married friend got in my car as pale as the palest ghost. I said, “What is wrong with you?” She swallowed her nausea and managed the word “pregnant.” We were both stunned. We’d never done pregnancy before.

Five babies, many milestones, lots of life, challenging jobs, countless lunches and shopping sprees later, the baby she was pregnant with thirty years ago got married, this past Saturday night.

Suddenly, I’m the person in the congregation crying because, oh my goodness…life!  Her baby boy looked the same as he always had except now he was the groom. My friend looked gorgeous as the glowing groom’s mom.

Our weekend was filled with celebrations and people we had not seen for years. The entire time I’m asking myself how this happened. How did the college girls get to be moms of adults?

When I was younger older people used to whisper to me the secrets of life. I was moving too fast to listen. It seemed like they were telling me something about babies growing fast and time flying.

Now, I’m the one whispering and crying happy tears in the pew because, to me, a wedding is so much more than two people marrying. It is a lifetime of moments, relationships, parenting, angst and friendship all squeezed into a few sacred Holy moments where love and hope once again emerge.

When all that awareness hits you at once, it’s bound to seep out in joy-filled tears.

Dr. Cindy Ryan is a pastor, writer, mom, Mimosa to Keller, breast cancer survivor and tearful wedding guest. She is speaking at The Well women’s event at First UMC Grapevine, Texas on February 8, 2018. Some tickets are still available at http://www.fumcg.org/cindyryan 

Attention

If you read my last entry, you are aware that last week I had to move almost everything from inside the house to the garage to get ready for ceiling and floor work at our home. I ended the week sore, bruised and really sick of my stuff. It was particularly difficult in the pantry, finding foods that were at “their best if eaten by 2012.” Yeah.

The man overseeing phase one coached me on how to get the house ready. When I asked him what I should do while they are working he politely said, “Go on vacation?” He laughed but I can take a hint. Thankfully, we have friends that are very generous with their lovely lake house in Oklahoma. They let me squat there whenever I need silence or time away. I once asked them what they would do if I never left. They only laughed nervously and said “You are welcome to stay as long as you want.” Yes, these are the best of friends.

I’ve been here since last Saturday just soaking in fall at the lake. The leaves are contemplating their fall colors: red, gold or orange. The weather is crisp at night and never hot in the daytime. I’ve seen lots of deer, all kinds of birds and of course the squirrels are having the time of their life with a generous helping of acorns everywhere. Right now, I’m on a screened in porch while it rains and gently thunders all around me. It is delicious. Oh, and also I have coffee.

The election is really scarring/scaring me. I’ve been beside myself, addicted to Twitter in a “gawking at an accident kind of way.” My husband even told me, “you’ve got to disconnect from this stuff.” Here, it is easier. First, the wi-fi is non-existent. Secondly, my focus has changed. Here, it is more about the rhythm of the day than of the news cycle. Sunrise and sunset anchor the morning and evening. Walks are longer and without headphones. I’m reading actual books, on my fifth now. My journal entries and prayer time are elongated in a slow and gentle way.

I’ve been reading a book called “Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age” by Sherry Turkle, a technology professor at MIT. She is like a voice in the wilderness lamenting our addiction to our phones and all things electronic. Our attention is fractured, splintered, shot. We are losing the art of long slow talks and just being able to sit in silence or watch the sky or look out over a body of water.

I’m no better than anyone else. I’m addicted. I can’t seem to pull away from my phone, even here. But, I am aware that I want something different. I am aware that my soul is fed and even anchored by nature, by quiet, by stillness. When I put my attention in the right place I’m assured in powerful ways of God’s goodness and nearness. This morning I was comforted by this old hymn line running through my mind, “Though the wrongs seem oft so strong, God is the Ruler yet.”

I have no answers for anything except this: what we attend to matters. I’m going to do my best to attend to creation and the One who creates.

A Few Thoughts on Marriage…and Geese

A wise man once told my husband and me to think of our marriage as “the goose that laid the golden egg.” After I processed through a few weird visual images, I started to get it.  He meant our marriage partnership was stronger and more productive than either of us was apart.  He was trying to tell us to take care of the goose, for heaven’s sake.  Feed it, water it, shelter it, take it for walks, give it nutrients and vitamins and good goose food. Our marriage needed intentional nurturing to produce good fruit. I mean, eggs.

The same man asked us if we had a weekly (weekly!) date night.  He asked if once a quarter we got away together for long weekends.  What?  He had the nerve to ask us if we’d ever gone on a trip alone for two weeks or more. Are you kidding me?

We still have not achieved the once a quarter get away much less the two weeks gone thing but we got the point.  The goose needs love and attention, now.

As a pastor, I see it too often.  Marriages running on fumes.  Relationships depleted.  Couples so stretched, busy and out of the habit of tending to their marriages that they have almost nothing left.  There are some very malnourished, emaciated geese out there.  How did it happen that we put careers, kids, sports, community, hobbies and friends before our marriages?  How did our geese get so feeble?

Dr. Richard Swenson is a physician who writes about margin, making space in our lives for what matters. He writes, “Relationships require time.  Marriage requires time. Love requires time….Shared experiences, romantic date nights, reconciliation, errands, play, all require time.” He writes a “prescription” for marriage: “Make time for it.  Schedule time for communication….Have regular dates. Keep short accounts….When culture makes home deliveries of stress and overload, don’t open the door.  Guard the atmosphere of your home and the resilience of your marriage.” A Minute of Margin

Or, more simply put, wake up and take care of the goose, now.

Healing

Two years ago this week, I found a lump in my breast and began a journey with breast cancer that I never signed up for.  In spite of never signing up, I was lucky.  It was caught early, small, not in my lymph nodes.  It required surgery, radiation and now a five year course of medication that my body is still reeling from.  As the two year anniversary came and went this week, I spent some early morning time reflecting on healing.

I am healed from cancer.  It took 5 doctors, invasive and not so invasive treatment plus drugs.  I’m on 5 medications to counter the side effects from one.  No kidding.  But, along with that cancer healing, I’ve experienced other layers of healing.   My spirit seems healed.  I feel I’m in God’s hands and I trust God’s hands.  I’ve had healing in my relationships-past and present ones.  I’ve had healing in my daily routine.  I no longer believe I am invincible and should just push on through when my body, mind and soul want to stop and rest. I respect my limits. 

And this is probably the best healing–I savor life. Right now, it is nearly 100 degrees outside.  I’m inside and it is cool.  I’m eating frozen red grapes, drinking ice tea and writing.  I’m 100% aware of each of those gifts.

Jesus Calling by Sarah Young has seen me through the last years.  On August 20, the second anniversary of my “unplanned journey”–these were the opening devotional words, “I am a God who heals.”  Yes.  Yes.  Amen.