Posted by: Donna Douglass | Monday June 29, 2020

Life Lessons from my Kid

I don’t even remember what she did. But there I was, staring down my five-year-old, expecting some pithy answer to my “What do you need to do?” following some infraction or other. She tentatively stepped forward and wrapped her little arms around my legs. Obviously, I was way off. What was really needed was more love! Of course.

Posted by: Donna Douglass | Wednesday June 24, 2020

Bible lesson from life

Parts of my childhood were charmed, or so I’ve learned as an adult. Every holiday and for one week in the summer, all my cousins on my dad’s side gathered in Thornwood at Grandma and Grandpa’s house. It was just how things were.

Twenty acres of hillside forest, farm and lawn and a three-story stone house filled with nooks and crannies of character. We had a fort among the trees, took rides on the tractor, sledded around the house and down the long hill. We jumped the fish pond, galloped around the pasture and played hide-and-seek all over the house.

Thirty years later, I find that we also sipped soda on the porch swing, tossed chemicals into the fireplace to turn the flames different colors, played myriad games in the stone room and enjoyed music from the organ or record player piped through the house (before wireless speakers were even thought possible!).

And apparently, we also spend a good bit of our time there vacuuming the floral-patterned rugs, dusting the vanities in each room, pulling weeds in the garden and raking leaves.

In addition to the adrenaline-soaked action, I remember some of the more restful activities and none of the cleaning, yet they occupy huge sections of my cousins’ otherwise affectionate memories of “Grandma’s.” I am certain these were the same people with whom I grew up there, but I’m stumped by how differently we remember it.

The next time someone asks me why we need four perspectives of Jesus’ life and why they are different, I have a story to tell!

Posted by: Donna Douglass | Wednesday May 6, 2020

Trajectory

“Mom, look! There’s a brown man next to peach-colored man!”

“Shhhh, honey. We can’t see that. People of all colors are equal. We must not see skin color.”

The little girl marveled at the men of different colors, puzzled, but went on skipping and holding Mom’s hand as years passed.

“Look, Mom! Why is that man in a wheel chair?”

“Shhh, honey. We can’t see that. People of all mobility and ability levels are equal. We must not see differing capabilities.”

The little girl watched a runner sprint by the wheel chair, puzzled, but went on skipping and holding Mom’s hand as years passed.

“Look, Mom! Why are those two men and those two women holding hands?”

“Shhh, honey. We can’t see that. The choices people make are all equal. We must not see their choices.”

The little girl’s heart troubled her as she watch the two couples. Then her eyes rested on a man and woman holding hands and the trouble cloud left. She went on walking and holding Mom’s hand as years passed.

“Mom, why are all the people gray and lifeless? They are all the same. I can’t tell them apart!”

“We must see them all the same. We must ignore all color, ability and choices. They are all the same. Culture says so.”

The girl’s hand flew to her face as all color drained from it, terror filling her little body. “Am I as gray and lifeless as they?”

“Look, Dad! I can do it!”

“Yes, you can,” Dad smiled patiently.

“Look, Dad! I can do it better than they can!”

“Yes, you can,” Dad agreed.

“Look, Dad! I’m better than them!”

“Yes, my precious. You sure are,” Dad affirmed.

“Look, Dad! I’m the best there is!”

But Dad was gone. The little girl no longer saw him, nor anyone else.

She was all there was, or at least, all that mattered. But she could do all. She knew all. She had this.

Then a log tumbled her bike…but her arrogance had thrown her beyond the reach of help.

She blended into the gray shadows milling around her. Even desperate for help, she saw no one. And no one saw her.

Empty and meaningless. Where the trajectory of tolerance and arrogance converge.

Posted by: Donna Douglass | Wednesday May 1, 2019

The Miracle, and the Dream It Enabled

Six months ago Callie’s husband Shawn* came home on hospice with leukemia and an infection of his eye that went into his brain. He was given 4-6 weeks to live and wanted to spend that at home with his wife and ten children, ages 3-16.

When we moved to their town in 2015 Callie’s husband and mine met first – and discovered they’d attended the same seminary in SC at the same time. Soon after their first conversation they introduced Callie and me. As fellow pastors’ wives, moms and athletes, we became fast friends. Some mornings we ran together – or walked when she became pregnant with #10. Other times we crossed paths at the pool where she coached the local high school team, taught her own kids and swam herself a little bit. We sometimes joked about going to Masters Nationals, but neither of us had the slightest hope it would ever happen: my life was full of frequent moves, three small kids and triathlon. Hers was full of homeschooling, coaching and church ministry.

And by late 2018, she was also caring for a beloved husband who doctors declared terminal. But apparently, when many people pray and God chooses to respond, miracles happen. Weeks after he came home on hospice, Shawn found he was improving rather than weakening. His infection was healing. They said he’d never see out of that eye again, but in a few weeks it became as good as the other. And tests showed the infection had shrunk drastically and the rest of his cancer completely in remission. In December, he returned to a full work schedule.

Meanwhile in November, we’d moved outside of Phoenix, within a mile of a robust Masters swim program. For the first time in my life, I joined…then discovered that we’d be in the area for Masters Nationals. An idea was born.

When I shared it with Callie, she replied immediately – and incredulously. Of course she wanted to stay with us and compete in Nationals…if only they could afford it, and if only there was a public pool in her rural town that was open all year. But ten kids, medical bills, a pastors salary, full-time nursing school to prepare to support a family if necessary and summer-only pools don’t really support swimming dreams. Thankfully a donor bridged the financial gap, a family friend began to help with the kids and friends at the local Air Force base teamed together to get her on base to practice at their indoor pool.

I’ve never seen anyone train harder! Some weeks, she swam more miles than I ran, simply so that she "wouldn’t embarrass myself." She’s spurred me to swim more and faster, even from afar. As a result, not only did we both have a great time, but we also both bested our goals in nearly every event. She even placed in two of hers – and contributed to the top Regional Team in the event.

The joke we shared in 2016 had become a distant dream stored on some dusty shelf in the back of our minds – and now it has transformed into a treasured memory, thanks to many folks for pitching in and to God for miracles.

*Not their real names.

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