There is no doubt that the past two years have been very difficult as we have experienced the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of you have lost family members and good friends. Others, like myself, nearly lost a family member; in my case it was my brother. When you experience something like that, it makes you want to live each day intentionally. For my brother, that looks like reaching out to friends who have tested positive themselves, or the family of friends to share his experience as a way to help and encourage them. Other friends are battling cancer or facing other hardships. As we look to 2022, it would be wise for all of us to consider what we have learned through our experiences over the past two years so that we can lead more intentional lives.
The beginning of a new year is a great time for us to focus on those areas where we want to be intentional. But how do you decide what you want to focus on? Continue reading
Recently, a friend that we hadn’t seen for a while asked my wife Tammy how I was staying busy in retirement. That’s not an unusual question. Some people are almost afraid of retiring because they think they will be bored. Others can’t wait to retire so that they can travel, play golf, spend time with their grandchildren, etc.
I’ve been retired just over three years now, and while we have done some travelling (the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns made that difficult for all of us for over a year), we’ve played very little golf. We both enjoy writing (the Coram Deo Blog and Tammy and I have each written a book), reading and spending time with our new dog Clara. I’ve continued to do some mentoring and participate in our ongoing breakfast book club. But we have found an unexpected benefit for this season of retirement. Retirement has given us time to focus on friends and family in a way that we simply couldn’t have if we were still working. Continue reading
Although we all want to put 2020 behind us, we have to face the reality that for most of us it will still be some time yet before we can get the COVID-19 vaccination and life will begin to return to what is going to surely be a “new normal” as far as work, school, travel, visiting, etc. are concerned. As we look to 2021, it would be wise to consider what we have learned about ourselves in 2020.
The beginning of a new year is a great time for us to focus on those areas where we want to improve. But how do you decide what you want to focus on? This is not just about what are referred to as “New Year’s Resolutions”. No, it’s much more important than that. I would suggest going back to your Personal Mission Statement to assure your goals are in alignment with your core purpose, principles and beliefs.
Now I understand and respect that not all people are into setting goals for themselves. I’m one of those who does enjoy setting goals; I break them into daily, short-term and long-term goals.
Here’s a few suggestions for areas you may want to set goals in as you live intentionally in 2021: Continue reading
My Dad went home to be with the Lord on September 3. You can read what is in effect my eulogy for him here.
Reflecting back on his loss of physical strength and independence and then on through the last week of his life, my sister, brother and I learned a few lessons – many of them closely related – that might help you. Here they are:
No Regrets – Several times during the last week of Dad’s life, my sister mentioned that she had no regrets. When our Mom died a little more than 24 years ago, it was sudden. She never recovered from heart surgery, and died two days later. She was on a ventilator and we couldn’t communicate with her. At the time some relationships were better than others, and there were some regrets. In Dad’s final days, we fortunately had a little more time to spend with him.
Leave Nothing Unsaid – Any time we leave a visit with an elderly parent or other loved one, we realize that it could be the last time. Of course, we know that a loved one doesn’t have to be elderly; none of us are guaranteed life for the next minute. During this time, we learned not to leave things unresolved. As an example, my relationship with my Dad throughout my life was complicated. We went through long periods of not talking during two parts of my life, time we could never get back. In January of this year, during a time when Dad spent time in three different hospitals, I felt prompted to ask for his forgiveness, which he graciously granted.
During the last week of Dad’s life, we were able to thank him for being such a great Dad and giving us such a good life. We are so glad that we had that opportunity.
Forgive Others – Similar to my example above, do you have unresolved issues with loved ones? You may not even recall what originally led to the break in the relationship. Why not take the step to try to mend the relationship, asking for forgiveness for anything you have done and forgiving the other person for any hurt they have caused you? This doesn’t mean that you have to have a relationship with them going forward, but it’s time to lay that burden of bitterness down.
Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Colossians 3:13
Stay Connected with Extended Family – Our Dad and Mom were raised in the Chicago area, where much of their remaining family members still live. After we moved to central Illinois in the early 1960’s, we would often make the trip back to Chicago for holidays, weddings, etc. However, as time went by, we each started our own families and the trips became less frequent. After our Mom died in 1996, we rarely saw extended family members. Seeing some of them at Dad’s visitation and funeral brought us mixed feelings – joy in seeing loved family members, and sadness and regret that we have let so much time go by without trying to connect with them. My hope is that after this pandemic, and it is safe to travel and be around people again, we will be intentional and proactive about visiting with both sides of our family.
Tell Them You Love Them – This is the most important lesson of all. Don’t forget to tell your loved ones that you love them. During the pandemic, I started taking afternoon walks, which usually included a call to Dad. We would talk about politics, sports, the news of the day and my brother’s upcoming retirement. I would end each call telling Dad that I loved him. It was uncomfortable at first, as we didn’t grow up sharing our feelings like that, but it became more comfortable, and he would tell me that he loved me as well.
In the hospital during Dad’s final days, my sister, brother and I had the opportunity many times to tell Dad that we loved him. Even if your loved ones know that you love them, why not be intentional about telling them as often as you can?
I hope these lessons that we learned from walking with Dad in his final days will be of some help to you in your particular situation. What lessons that you have learned would you add to our list?