A Word on Wednesday: Accolade

I always found doing something for the reward was less than. I found it better to forego credit and attempt to remain humble. It was my aspiration to be more altruistic, to do good work without recognition.

There is honor in notice. Accolades are not to be shied away from. The noun referrers to any award, honor, or laudatory notice. 

I think of the graduates this year, be it from college, high school, tech school, graduate school, or even the eighth grade. Their achievement is without ceremony. The applause is missing.

accolade

I think back on my own graduations. From high school, I wore a white gown and cap with an orange tassel and stood with the others from my small class. My parents were there, my teachers, my grandparents, my sister. I found the pomp and circumstance less than necessary. When, I graduated from college cum laude, I skipped the ceremony all together.  I shied  away from recognition, avoided the accolades.

Sports were never a part of my life. I wasn’t raised to be a competitor. I never stood on a podium for a metal or ribbon. I never learned the lessons of pride from an athletic achievement. Instead, I was an introvert, reading, writing. I did compete in Swing Choir and Forensics. But those activities drew few spectators and the state competitions were quiet and far away. We didn’t ride a bus with painted windows to the capital.

Somehow, at my middle age, I have yet to learn the poise of confidence. I have yet to become comfortable in others highlighting my professional, literary, and personal accomplishments.

Accolade originates from phrasing roughly translated to embracing around the neck. It was originally a word used for a tapping of the sword on the shoulders to confer knighthood. Extending meaning is as praise, award.

Certainly, what could I do that would warrant such a gesture as this!

I think of  The Parable of Talents from the Book of Matthew. Those who were able to multiple the talents given were given more. The one who buried his talent away had that too taken from him.

With confidence, I can sow what I have been given and reap what is possible. From this, I can hear the following verse: 

“His lord said to him, ‘Well donegood and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.'” (Matthew 25:16-23).

A Word on Wednesday: Opportunity

Opportunity means conditions are favorable to achieve some end.

People say, “opportunity is all around us,” and they also say, “Don’t waste a good opportunity.” Which one is it? How many times does opportunity knock? How can you be ready for it?

opportunity

From Old French in the late Fourteenth Century, opportunitie, translates to “fit, convenient, or seasonable time.” Opportunity’s current definition does not deviate far from that root: “a situation or condition favorable for attainment of a goal.”

Therefore, it stands to reason, that to seize opportunity, the goal should be top of mind and clearly defined. I recommend reading the late Zig Ziglar’s many motivational books on business, specifically sales, success.

Opportunity, in so much as having the occasion to succeed, is like luck. Thomas Jefferson once said, “The harder I work, the more luck I have.”

This expression used by farmers, “make hay while the sun is shining” reminds us to use the opportunities when they are present. We are not guaranteed endless days of optimal conditions. From the book of John when Jesus gave sight to a blind man, we hear the advice, We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work.” John 9:4.

The opportunity we must most be mindful of is the opportunity to live out Jesus’ will. What talents has he bestowed on you to use for the good of the world?

“So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” Galatians 6:10.

With this blog, I have the opportunity to share the word, albeit without the benefit of a theological degree. This is my quiet, subtle promise to be an evangelist. From 2 Timothy 4:2, I am reminded to “Preach the word; be ready in season and out to season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort with complete patience and teaching.”“As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” 2 Timothy 4:5.

For me, it is the written word that has been bestowed upon me and developed through opportunities. What is your opportunity to please the Lord?

 

A Word on Wednesday: Appropriate

Appropriate, having the right thing for the right occasion.

appropriateA week ago, the Wisconsin Supreme Court overruled Gov. Tony Evers’ Safer at Home order, essentially leaving the state a free for all. There is no government policy guiding how to reopen with suitable precautions in place. 

Immediately after the action, the Wisconsin Tavern League issued a statement encouraging bar owners to open. And they did. Pictures of bars throughout the state packed with people shoulder to shoulder flooded the internet. As a resident, it was a complete source of embarrassment.

In the aftermath of the ruling, counties and municipalities put out their own guidelines, which also were overruled a day later. Now it is in the hands of business owner to business owner. And resident to resident to be appropriate. This is not the time to live with reckless abandon.

Politics aside, I believe it is inappropriate to ignore the pandemic, which cannot be legislated into extinction. I acknowledge Wisconsin isn’t the hardest hit. (As of today, 12,885 cases and 467 deaths in the state.) 

However, I will not buy into the idea that this virus only kills those who are “expendable.” Someone living with advanced age or an underlying health conditions do not deserve to die from a horrendous virus.

Therefore, I think the following guidelines, as outlined by the CDC, are appropriate.

  1. Wear a mask in public.
  2. Maintain social distance.

Of course, the list is longer than that, and you can read it here.

As I struggle to remain diligent in my behavior to slow the spread and flatten the curve, I pray that the lead researchers on this pandemic can be guided to a solution.

A Word on Wednesday: Daffodil

This concrete noun is a bulbous plant, Narcissus pseudonarcissus, of the amaryllis family, having solitary, yellow, nodding flowers that bloom in the spring. 

More than that, it is the sign of spring as sure as a fat robin here in Wisconsin. In my garden, I have seen these blooms as soon as early March. This year, it is late April, and the daffodils are stunted and sad, limp and weeping.

Daffodil

April can seem the longest month. Winter began last October with the children trick-or-treating in the snow! We thirst to be outside without bundled layers. After the calendar announced the first day of spring more than a month ago, we await Mother Nature to do her part!

The childhood rhyme goes, “April showers, bring May flowers.” This April, I still have down-filled puffer jacket on the hook by the door. How nice to think of an umbrella and rain boots instead.

However, this too, shall pass. Other years, the daffodils will be stronger, more vibrant.

 

 

 

A Word on Wednesday: Exhausted

We are living through a pandemic. Here, in a rural, sleepy, Midwestern town, there are just a handful of cases, and as of yet, no deaths.

The close reaching effect on me is nothing. I have not lost my income, earlier I wrote about my essential day job. I am young enough to recoup my lost investments. And, most importantly, I am not ill with the virus. 

I mostly stay home. When venturing out, I social distance. I veer from the path of others on my late afternoon walks, wait politely at the grocery store aisles for others to pass, gather virtually with family and friends, and worship by watching a live stream. Online discussions replaced book club this month.

I long to see my friends; I need the gabbing giggles of the sisterhood! I do not have my gaggle of gal pals to fill me with belly laughs and encouragement and fellowship.

In Wisconsin, we have a “Stay at Home Order.”  Its end is threatening into an unknown future date, word of its extension on the horizon. My action, is inaction.

Yet, I am exhausted. I hesitate to use the word depressed, but I fear my state is skating to that edge. For now, I am content to concede, I am exhausted, nothing more, nothing less.

Exhausted

Just last month, I was writing about being busy, so busy! I wonder how inaction can cause such exhaustion. Perhaps, it is the news I consume, the horror from the hot spots. Perhaps, it is my daily wine, drank in boredom. Perhaps it is over consumption of food, baked to pass the time.

Regardless of its root, I declare, I am exhausted — drained of strength or energy, worn out.

It is time for me to replenish that which has been lost. It is not that which depleted my energy, which is of importance. It is how I can restore it that matters. I must stretch beyond, the obvious — sleep, fresh air, movement, and nourishment. These things have not alleviated my exhaustion. I remain mentally and physically weakened.

If I’m being honest, I am also depleted spiritually. My last thought, is to turn to my faith. I know this season will end; it is all temporary.

I look to the following verses to replenish what has been lost, to relieve my exhaustion.

“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” 1 Peter 5:10.

“Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.” Psalm 51:12

 

 

A Word on Wednesday: Essential

Essential: adjective, absolutely necessary; indispensable.

I live in Wisconsin. Schools are closed, non essential businesses are closed. I am grateful for the Stay at Home order from Governor Tony Evers.

For me, there is still the day job. I feel like I won a booby prize being considered “essential.” I work in health care, but not as a front-line worker.

Essential

It is great for my mental health to be out and with people doing work that is meaningful. It is great to take a break from the devastating world news that I consume ravenously.

Yet, I worry about the exposure from the symptom-less carriers I could be interacting with. Everyone who enters our hospital is screened for symptoms and fevers. Those who are exhibiting them are redirected to a quarantine-ready location.

I wear a surgical mask. No one can see my smile. Yet, my tears will be obvious when I become overwhelmed.

A Word on Wednesday: Sociable

Sociable: A character trait.

sociable

Sociable, as an adjective, describes someone who is inclined to associate with or be in the company of others. It describes someone who is friendly or agreeable in company; companionable.

It wasn’t that long ago, that I was highly sociable. We hosted thirty people at our house for Christmas day. This included eight children and one newborn. It was a wonderful day!

In January, we hosted more than twenty friends for a birthday party. It was a buzzing success.

In February, I attended my two monthly book clubs, one with wine, both with laughter and discussion with the sisterhoods.

In March, it came to a halt with the advent of “social distancing.” Was a walk okay? Should we still have book club? What about extended family? Who is compromised? Who is a carrier? What should we avoid?

While, I have always been grateful to be connected with many, many sociable people, I have always been just as grateful for snow storms that shut me into my Wisconsin home.

Now that staying in isn’t a choice, I appreciate my more sociable friends who have reached out with technology to host virtual happy hours and family gatherings. We have used Facebook Messenger and Zoom applications.

I look forward to the day when we can again socialize with a return to normalcy, which will undoubtedly be different from the normal of yesterday.

 

 

 

A Word on Wednesday: Fellowship

Fellowship is a community of companionship.

fellowship

When I think of fellowship, I think of coffee hour after worship on Sunday mornings. It is one of the meanings of the word, and the most obvious place I put the concept into practice. “Communion, as between members of the same church.”

As a noun, it originates from Middle English 1200, feolahschipe “companionship,” from fellow + -ship. Sense of “a body of companions.”

Taken to modern day, the noun is the condition or relation of being a fellow: the fellowship of humankind. It also is defined as a friendly relationship or a community of interest. 

In a secular sense, I have great fellowship with writers, with readers, with card game competitors, with family.

In a faith community sense, I was slow to adopt to this behavior of connecting with others at my church. As a Catholic, I very much just attended Mass, where I said silent prayers, chanted and sang together. Beyond exchanging peace, my interaction with other congregates, was limited. I did not gather in the church basement or some other fellowship hall.

As I transitioned to worship at a Presbyterian Church, I continued to dodge the social hour and made way for the parking lot as soon as the benediction concluded.

I felt my faith was stunted in this way. I was unable to grow in community. By saying yes to fellowship, I have experienced the power of symmetry. Meaning the sum of its parts are greater than the whole. Alone, I can do little. With fellowship of believers, I can sustain a greater affirmation of the Word and carry it through the week ahead.

Knowing my neighbors in the congregation and connecting with them, I can hold them and their concerns in my heart. And, even more humbly, I can rely on them to hold my spiritual needs in theirs.

“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together , they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone. And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him — a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

A Word on Wednesday: Busy

Remember the days of land lines actually attached to a wall. Remember trying to call someone dialing just seven digits, and getting a jarring, repetitive, static-y tone?

Busy. Try again. Still busy. There was no way to leave a message. There was no way to send an email or text. There was no way to reach the person in that moment at all. And, this was annoying. The “brr brr brr” echoing in the receiver was a frustrating sound, a dead end.

busy

Busy is a word from Old English, bisig, meaning “careful” or “anxious.” Later surfaces of the word are from the Old Dutch, bezich, meaning “continually employed or occupied, in constant or energetic action.” The notion of “anxiousness” has drained from the word since Middle English.

Indeed, today, we wear busy as a badge of honor. We are so busy with our work, with our families, with our hobbies, with everything. We view our colleague’s calendar to set up a meeting and see her’s is stacked with blocks titled “busy” sometimes double booked.  This is a stamp of importance, so many meetings to attend!

Presently, the adjective, means actively and attentively engaged in work; not at leisure, otherwise engaged. For example, he couldn’t see any visitors because he was busy. It can mean full of or characterized by activity: a busy life.

In the case of the telephone line, not immediately accessible. We begrudgingly accepted the phone line was busy. The person on the phone was present in another activity, just a step away from a wall. We heard the message that they couldn’t be reached. 

I, too, am busy. With the day job, with my family, with my book clubs, with my church, with my hobbies. I mistake activity for leisure, when often times, I am just filling time to avoid genuine rest. I choose to fill my calendar with group outings and volunteer meetings. I choose to be busy. I boast about how busy I am and therefore unable to accept visitors.

I send out a signal to the world, “brr, brr, brr. You can’t reach me.” I feel I send this message to God as well. Too busy to hear His voice, to live His will. It is a challenge to be still. To be open. To be reachable, receptive. When I fill every hour of every day, I do not yield the joy of spontaneity. Scheduled to the brim, I just go down the list bouncing from one activity to the next.

At times, I grow uncomfortable in stillness. It feels more natural to be engaged, busy. I am a Martha in Luke’s Gospel, busying myself with seemingly important tasks. In the bible story, Jesus visits the home of two sisters, Mary and Martha. Mary sits at the Lord’s feet and listens to his teaching while Martha busies herself serving him. Martha was bothered by Mary’s lack of assistance.

Jesus told her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:41-42

The one thing that is necessary is to listen to His teachings. I wonder, if when the time comes for me to hear Him, will He reach a busy signal. I hope to leave enough room to answer the call.

A Word on Wednesday: Worth

To know your value is to know your worth. Time and money are the quantifiers of modern life. How you choose to exchange these resources is the summation of what you consider valuable.

worth

As a preposition, worth is what is good or important enough to justify. For example, advice worth taking or a place worth visiting.

As a noun, worth is first defined as excellence of character or quality as commanding esteem: women of worth. This definition reminds me of Psalm 46:5 “God is within her, she will not fail.” If as a woman, she truly believes herself to be a vessel of God, she would not settle for less than she deserves.

Furthermore, worth, the noun, is defined as usefulness or importance, as to the world, to a person, or for a purpose. Worth is value, as in money.

As a woman, who has settled for enough, I strive to stand straighter in command of my worth. Considering worth in a quantitative measure is easy; I can easily perceive a value of goods, services, and experiences purchased. Worth is having an equal value. This vase is worth twelve dollars.

Qualitatively, knowing what is worth my time, is less straightforward. I always found opportunity cost to cast doubts on my decisions. If I spend my time doing this, I cannot spend that same time doing something else. We all have the same twenty-four hours in a day, but we don’t know how many days we have left.

From knowing one’s own worth, one can decide how to use their time. Socializing with friends is worth a couple hours of my time. Reading two books a month, is worth the slices of time captured in afternoons, evenings, and lunch breaks. Minutes on the treadmill is worthwhile. The day job is worth the bulk of my weekdays. Time with family is never wasted.

When someone else is doing the measuring, one can present a confident sense of value and request the equitable rate of exchange. This is important in negotiations. Related, what is worthwhile? What will it take to repay one’s time, attention, interest, work, or trouble?

“She is worth far more than rubies and pearls.” Proverbs 31:10