How Does It Feel to Be Alone?

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It’s So Empty

Where are the people?

The waiting room is totally empty and it’s already 8:30 a.m. It’s only me and signs that say, “PLEASE DO NOT SIT HERE” on every two out of three chairs.

I choose the seat closest to the electrical outlet to keep my phone charged. I don’t want to run out of juice.

I’m expecting a very important call. It will come from the other side of the heavy door that separates this Labor and Delivery waiting room from the actual Labor and Delivery birthing room.

My baby girl is in there. Jenna is having her first baby. My first grandson.

But I’m out here alone.

In the Old Days . . . 

It’s not supposed to be this way. Our big family has a tradition of piling into waiting rooms whenever a new baby is on the way.

We take up every available seat, crowding the chairs together to keep the party going as we await news of the pending birth. We have snacks. We laugh. We visit. Way back in the day, we sometimes even gathered in the hospital hallway with our ears to the delivery room door, waiting to hear the first cry of a niece or nephew.

But there’s no big party today.

This is birth in the pandemic age.

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The Designated Visitor

The clock ticks on. It’s now 11 a.m.

Only one lucky visitor will be allowed to see the baby after he arrives. As the mother’s mother, Jenna picked me to be the “designated visitor.” The previous night I’d reported in with the hospital doorman. He wrote my name on the list and gave me a name tag.

This morning they tell me that my husband Jeff can join me at least in the waiting room.

I’m waiting for him now.

He’s caught in heavy traffic and torrential rains somewhere between Birmingham and here. We hadn’t expected baby Henry to come three weeks early. We thought we had plenty of time. But the clock is ticking quickly now. 

I look at my phone again. I want it to ring.

But I want the first ring to be from Jeff, saying he’s in the parking lot, not from Trey saying his son Henry has just been born.

I want Jeff to be with me when we get the good news. It doesn’t feel right to hear it alone.

Who Will Call First?

Someone opens the Labor & Delivery door from the inside. I turn. It’s 11:45 a.m.

It’s a hospital worker, but she has no news for me.

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She asks if I’m waiting for a birth. She asks how it feels to be a grandmother. She says she is excited for me.

Her name is Annie. She’s 40ish, looks me in the eye when she talks, and has a Canadian accent. It’s been several months since I’ve had a long conversation with a stranger, even through our masks. It feels oddly normal in this abnormal time. 

Annie leaves.

I return to my solitary waiting. It’s 12:43 p.m. Will Jeff make it on time?

My phone buzzes. I look at the screen.

It’s not Jeff.

It’s Trey. It’s a picture of my new grandson. He’s beautiful. Henry is here!

I cry. I’m happy!

But I’m also sad. Jeff didn’t make it in time. We miss this first moment together.

Behind the Next Door

The hospital sound system is playing its 30-second lullaby chime, a signal to everyone in the hospital that a new life has just entered our world.

I feel even more alone.

Until I hear footsteps. I look up.

It’s Annie. She’d heard the chimes, too, and knew they were mine. She congratulates me. I show her my new phone photo of our glorious baby Henry. She hands me tissues. She stays. 

Silly me. I was never all alone. There is always a Designated Visitor behind the next door, even if it’s not who I expect. Thank you, God.

And thank you, Annie. I’ll always remember you, my new special friend who celebrated with me on the day Henry was born.

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When have you felt alone during the pandemic? When have you felt community?

Share your thoughts in the comments.

The rest of the story . . . Jeff rushed into the waiting room at 1:06 p.m. and together we rejoiced that our new grandson Henry was here and healthy and that Jenna was fine. Jeff didn’t get to go back to see Henry when I did at 2:23 p.m., but he did go to Chick-fil-A and bought us all chicken sandwiches, for which we were extremely grateful. (He got to see Henry two days later when Jenna and Trey made it home.)

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sharing with Patsy, Jeanne, Jen, Maryleigh


He’s Here! My Gift of Awe This Week
—Grace & Truth Linkup

grace-and-truth-weekly-christian-linkup-its friday

A beautiful package of grace arrived in our family this week.

Our new little grandson showed up around 3 weeks early, but he’s perfect in every way. So the fun has begun.

Jenna and Trey are already proving to be phenomenal parents. 

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Featured Post

Do you ever take an “awe walk”? It’s what Suzette talks about in our featured post for this week.

Suzette explains the benefits of taking a stroll to intentionally shift your attention to the outside and away from the inside, to allow God to make your moments meaningful, to “savor the ordinary things that produce extraordinary experiences.”

Read all of Suzette’s post here at her blog, myconcretedove, then link up your own blog posts below.

Learning to Savor and Save Special Moments as God’s Gifts


It’s easy for me to feel awe this week as I look into the face of my new grandson. Which of God’s gifts has brought you awe this week? Share your thoughts in the comments.

grace-and-truth-weekly-christian-linkup-rules

1. Share 1 or 2 of your most recent CHRISTIAN LIVING posts. (No DIY, crafts, recipes, or inappropriate articles.) All links are randomly sorted.

2. Comment on 1 or 2 other links. Grace & Truth linkup encourages community.   

3. Every host features one entry from the previous week. To be featured, include this button or link back here on your post (mandatory to be featured, but not to participate).

Grace Truth_Button

Grace and Truth_Meet Hosts

We encourage you to follow our hosts on their blogs or social media.

MAREE DEE – Embracing the Unexpected
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

HEATHER HART & VALERIE RIESE – Candidly Christian
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

LAUREN SPARKS
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

LISA BURGESS – Lisa notes
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

Now Let’s Link Up!

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter


6 Tips to Make Life Easier
—Book Review of "Effortless"

Sometimes we make things harder than they need to be. But with the right steps, we can learn to make life easier instead.

6-tips-to-make-life-easier

An Effortless Recommendation

I’m sitting in the recliner at home, scrolling through Twitter as the day winds down, somewhere between supper and bedtime.

I see a tweet from Daniel Pink. It shows his latest list of book recommendations. I always read his tweets, just like I always read his books and his emails.

I immediately read his list. These are books I’ll hunt down at my library and on NetGalley and add to my Evernote “To Read” folder.

Why? Because I trust Daniel Pink. He’s earned it through numerous positive connections between the books he recommends and the books I like.

Daniel Pink makes my life easier. He makes it effortless to know which new books to add to my to-read list.

Trying Too Hard?

Making life effortless is what Greg McKeown writes about in his newest release, Effortless: Make It Easier to Do What Matters Most. (McKeown is also the author of the best-selling book Essentialiam: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less. Read more about it here: You can’t do it all—choose less.)

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In Effortless, McKeown focuses on making it easy to do what matters. He says we sometimes fail because we’re trying too hard. Instead, maybe we should “make the most essential activities the easiest ones.”

The book doesn’t give a one-size-fits-all answer, because what matters to you, to me, and to McKeown might be three different things. But the approach we use to arrive at that answer can be similar.

6 Tips to Make Life Easier

Here are 6 pieces of advice from McKeown to make life easier, among many in his book.

1. Make it a pair.

Reduce the lag time between the action and satisfaction by pairing an essential activity with a reward (such as, listening to a podcast only when you’re walking on the treadmill).

2. Create habit recipes.

“After [X] I will [Y].” For example, after I complain I will say something I am thankful for.

3. Create a “Done for the Day” list.

Only include on this list what constitutes meaningful and essential progress. Don’t make it a completion list, just a done-for-the day list.

4. Take the first obvious action.

Break projects down into their simplest parts. Too often we think of the first series of steps as the first step. Instead, find the true first step and start there.

5. Embrace the rubbish.

Don’t try to get everything exactly right the first time.

6. Grow a knowledge tree.

To repeat the residual results of knowledge, leverage what others know.

The Question to Ask

Tip #6 is what I do when I listen to Daniel Pink’s advice on what to read next. I leverage what he knows to effortlessly grow my own knowledge tree.

The book Effortless is full of more practical tips like these six. None are extreme or difficult, but are all designed to help us go the distance by choosing a lighter path.

McKeown ends the book with this takeaway:

“Life doesn’t have to be as hard and complicated as we make it. Ask yourself, “How am I making things harder than they need to be?” When you have your answer, you will know what to do next. It is as simple, it is as easy, as that.”


What are you making harder than it needs to be? Which of these 6 tips do you need the most? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Further Reading:

My thanks to NetGalley and Crown
Publishing for the review copy of this book

sharing with Anita, April,
Create with Joy, Grace & Truth, Richella


Can We Hug Again? How Do You Hug God?

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For the Huggers

Are you a hugger?

Back before COVID-19, we hugged around here. We hugged hello. We hugged good-bye.

We knew to start leaving five minutes early to allow for the rounds of hugging everybody in the room.

I’m ready to hug people again.

And we’re getting close. Among my friends and family who are now fully vaccinated (I am now!), we’re resuming our hugs.

But I want to hug God like that, too. And have him hug me back.

But I can’t.

It Feels Unfair

Before my dad got sick, each time I’d say good-bye he would get out of his chair, give me a hug, and kiss me on the cheek.

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But that changed.

Once cancer took over, even standing up became too laborious for him. So I’d go to him and lean over his recliner. He’d give me a hug as best he could. I’d hug him back and kiss his forehead.

“I love you, Daddy.”

He’d always say back, “I love you, too, Sweetheart.”

Not so with Father God.

Sometimes I resent that I can’t touch him with my hands. I can’t hear him with my ears. I can’t see him with my eyes.

Sometimes I even dare to pout, “Unfair.”

  • I want to feel Jesus’s cheek with the back of my fingers.
  • I want to crumple to my knees and my tears bathe his feet.
  • I want to grab his hand during the scary scenes of life.

But I can’t.

What was he thinking, leaving us here without his physical presence?

Yet, There Is This . . .

Thirty-three years doesn’t seem long enough. I wasn’t around when Jesus walked the earth.

Back then, Jesus touched with his hands.

  • He hugged little children.
  • He handled the sick.
  • He touched blind eyes, put fingers in deaf ears, even handled mute tongues.

But he hasn’t touched my hands. Not literally. Not now, anyway.

Yet, there is this:

I live in the unshakable Kingdom in a way that those in Jesus’ time did not (Hebrews 12:28).

What I have goes even deeper than touch. Higher than sound. Wider than vision (Ephesians 3:18-19).

  • I live in the spiritual presence of the living God (Hebrews 12:22-24).
  • I am covered with the spiritual blood of the spotless Lamb.
  • I am filled with the Holiest of Spirit there ever could be.

Do I still want to give God a hug? Yes.

Divine in the Human

But until I can, I’ll do this instead:

  • I’ll hug him with my songs.
  • I’ll hug him with prayers.
  • I’ll hug him with praise.

And as the pandemic winds down, I’ll hug other people every time it’s safe. People I know. People I love. People who love me.

People made in his image.

We’re not out of the woods yet with covid. We still need to be cautious that our hugs won’t harm others. We need to ask permission.

But for now, hugging those we can is comforting again.

Our physical touch releases God’s divine touch.

And for now, that is enough.

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Have you missed hugging other people? How have you felt God’s hugs? Let’s talk in the comments.

updated from the archives

sharing with Grace & Truth,
Anita, April, Inspire Me, Tamar


On the Blog—April 2021

Here are brief summaries and links to blog posts from April 2021.

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The Important Book I Didn’t Recommend
—Grace & Truth Linkup

Before I turn off my Kindle for the night and lay it on my nightstand, something in the book catches my attention.

Ah. There is it. The secret nugget. Sometimes even bad books have one. 

Not that I label this book “bad.” It just isn’t for me. I don’t enjoy non-fiction books that ramble a bit much. Or that give too many irrelevant details. Or that don’t offer first-hand experience with the topic.

I’d already decided I wouldn’t recommend it in my monthly post of 5 Books I Recommend for April

But when I come across this important bit of advice halfway in, I keep the light on a few minutes longer. 

important-book-i-didnt-recommend

What’s the Book?

The book I’m talking about is The Art of Taking It Easy: How to Cope with Bears, Traffic, and the Rest of Life’s Stressors by Brian King.

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It was the book pick for OverDrive’s #BigLibraryRead for April 2021. That set my expectations high.

Every few months, Big Library Read (BLR) participates in a global ebook club, lending the same ebook at the same time around the world. No wait lists from your library. No holds. Everybody can borrow a copy that wants one. 

The Art of Taking it Easy appealed to me because its author Dr. Brian King, both a psychologist and a stand-up comedian, writes about reducing stress.

Who doesn’t want less stress? Sign me up.

What’s the Big Advice?

And now for his advice. In the chapter I was reading that night, Dr. King gives three things to focus on, three things we already know.

1. Be more optimistic
2. Be more appreciative of what you have
3. Increase your appreciation of humor

But the way he frames them is what makes all the difference for me.

  • OPTIMISM

For optimism, he suggests keeping a journal of imagination (my wording, not his). Write about an aspect of your life using the most optimistic words possible. Regularly. 

This isn’t something I typically do. I label myself a realist, not an optimist (nor a pessimist). 

But for a few weeks now, I’ve begun devoting my Monday journaling to this exercise of predicting the best possible outcome for something ahead. (And it was another book that had recently motivated me to begin journaling again, The Power of Writing it Down.)

So for 20 minutes once a week I write about the best possible scenario for any upcoming stressful event. 

Do I think life will turn out this perfect way? Of course not. But it exercises an optimistic muscle I don’t always give myself permission to use so forcefully. And it actually shifts my thinking enough to relieve some of the stress of the event. 

In other words, it helps. 

  • GRATITUDE

We all have heard (and likely experienced) the benefits of keeping a gratitude journal. Telling God “Thanks!” for the good things in our life is a win-win. 

But the advice King gives tweaks it a little: Only focus on the current day. 

And give an explanation of why you’re grateful for each item. I’m doing this in my journal on Wednesdays.

  • HUMOR

As a comedian, Dr. King of course recommends laughter as good medicine. Again, we’re all familiar with how good we feel after a full-on belly laugh. 

But being intentional about seeking out humor is different than just passively awaiting it. 

Having just finished reading Humor, Seriously a couple months ago, I’ve been on the look-out for more reasons to laugh. The Art of Taking It Easy confirms it. 

I’m still not going to be the person who seeks out funny YouTube videos, but if someone sends me one, I’ll make more of an effort to watch. I’ll also not feel guilty about watching a Netflix comedy that always makes me laugh before I go to sleep. 

So My Advice?

What makes a book worth recommending? Maybe it’s not as clear-cut as I once thought.

Perhaps I should reconsider my initial judgment of this book. Maybe I should recommend The Art of Taking It Easy to you after all.

  • It’s prompted new behaviors in me.
  • It’s reducing my stress.
  • It’s doing what it promises to do.

For you to read or not to read?

I’ll just leave it up to you.

[Public service announcement:
The next Big Library Read will be available June 28 – July 12.
Stay tuned for details at their website or your local library.]

Featured Post

This week’s featured post also offers us advice. Specifically, marriage advice. But we can use it for any close relationship. You’ll discover lots of nuggets in this post.

Of the 8 pitfalls, #5 was particularly slippery for me during the pandemic. 

Read all 8 pitfalls from our blogging friend Linda Stoll. You can trust Linda to always give you solid advice. 

8 Marriage Pitfalls to Avoid Like the Plague


What book has prompted you to take action? Have you recommended it to others? Share your thoughts in the comments.

grace-and-truth-weekly-christian-linkup-rules

1. Share 1 or 2 of your most recent CHRISTIAN LIVING posts. (No DIY, crafts, recipes, or inappropriate articles.) All links are randomly sorted.

2. Comment on 1 or 2 other links. Grace & Truth linkup encourages community.   

3. Every host features one entry from the previous week. To be featured, include this button or link back here on your post (mandatory to be featured, but not to participate).

Grace Truth_Button

Grace and Truth_Meet Hosts

We encourage you to follow our hosts on their blogs or social media.

MAREE DEE – Embracing the Unexpected
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

HEATHER HART & VALERIE RIESE – Candidly Christian
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

LAUREN SPARKS
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

LISA BURGESS – Lisa notes
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

Now Let’s Link Up!

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter