The last week of each month I prep for the next month. I set aside time, pick some good music, light a scented candle, pull out my colored markers, and grab my planner.
Each month, I select a quote to set the tone – and below it I leave space to capture quotes (from books, shows, memes, poems, or friends) that grab my attention throughout the month. I’ve done this for more than 2 years. I find that it centers me for the month and makes me more attentive to words in the nearly 7 hours of Zoom calls I have daily as an executive coach and change communications consultant. I’m constantly listening for a phrase that stirs me.
At the end of each month, I re-read my quote, review the captured phrases, think about how the month went (or didn’t go), and begin to think about the next month. For me it’s a way I reflect on the last 30 days of life, which has been especially helpful in the blurry times of COVID.
As part of my work on the Christian Formation Committee (think Sunday School planning) at Westminster Presbyterian Church, the Associate Pastor asked me to speak at the kick-off of our new program year, for which the theme is rekindle. The year-long program is based on Bible verse 2 Timothy 1:6 – “For this reason I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands; for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline.”
The quest to speak came after a tumultuous time of 12 weeks of unexpected family medical leave…
In June my quote was, “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new.” Never could I have envisioned how poignant this quote would become. You see I was home visiting my parents once we were all vaccinated, and I witnessed my mother have a heart attack. I called 911, which ended up in an ambulance ride, then a medivac ride, and then open heart surgery for 5 bypasses. (I’ll pause now to share she’s doing great and crushing her cardiac rehab.) Everything in June became about “building the new” – her newly rebuilt heart and protecting it. As my mother said, “I need to do right by the care team and do the best I can with what they built inside me.”
Supporting phrases I wrote down that month included:
- A quantum leap is something you’re prepared to do
- You are a miracle
- He speaks to God so normally
- You can’t breathe when you’re holding your breath
- Miracle is a process, not an event
- Be proud of the scars on your skin
- May the Holy Spirit keep you in perfect peace
Still on leave from work and living at my parents, the July quote I found was “The worst battle I ever fought was between what I knew and what I felt.” During the month, I shifted from all out crisis mode into building and supporting an adjusted normal – from mom’s care to dad’s advancing dementia. It was a balancing act. A few of the quotes I captured included:
- You do not need to set yourself on fire to get other people warm
- The risk of standing still
- Be the youest you that ever you’d
- Spend your privilege, it’s limitless
- Be a highlighter in a sea of pencils
- You are made of pixie dust
- Your mistakes don’t define you, your lessons do
- Accept the grace
Then came August, and we accomplished mom’s big medical goal set in the hospital – move rehab to the beach for our annual family vacation. We did it… 60 days post-surgery and our toes were in the sand in awe of her care team, grateful for the more than 50 deliveries of food from her church (Williamsburg Presbyterian Church), and toasting life.
My August quote? “Today, I want you to think about all you are instead of all you are not.” Quotes I captured include-
- Stop yelling at your anxiety and listen to it
- A calm heart and self-control are necessary if one is to obtain good results
- Words are temporary, intent is momentous
- God sent you on an assignment to be you, don’t let anyone else give you an assignment
- The gospel will arrive nameless… it usually lands like a butterfly – quick and quiet… when we let it in, it needs no introduction. We need to get it from our intellect into our bones.
- Provide an endowment of radical joy and worthiness
I share with you my last three months because it’s been a rekindling I did not anticipant, want, or would have missed. I was rekindled…
- When my parents next door neighbor – a firefighter – took the emergency call knowing it was my parent’s address; her leadership got my mother to the emergency room with problems unknown
- When Dad’s former church member never left my mother’s side in the ER while I set up care for my dad the evening the heart attack occurred with magnitude unknown
- When my pastor prayed through my cell phone as my mom headed onto the medivac with futures unknown
- When my father prayed in the ICU at 6am for my mother and her medical team before they all took her to surgery with results unknown
- When Mom was flooded with cards and casseroles when her heart’s recovery was unknown
- When family, friends, coworkers, and members of every church leaned in to support me in an environment unknown (and I mean every church… dad’s past churches, my brother’s churches, my pastor friends churches, my Jewish friends, my episcopalian friends, my AME friends, and even Native American friends who sent dried sweet grass to smudge the house for more healing energy)
I was rekindled when I saw faith in action.
I was rekindled amidst the unknown in community and by community.
May we find that and be that for one another.