His face is etched into mine. As a child I studied that face as he shaved in his boxer shorts standing at the mirror over the sink, his face white with shaving cream, his eyes occasionally glancing over at me with amusement. I was captivated because he was my hero. He traveled a lot and home without him was not a good place for me, so when he was there I tagged after him like a puppy nipping at his heels. I never wanted him to leave and yet much of what I remember is him leaving with a suitcase in his hand, his suit and tie neatly packed, his blue eyes smiling and his black hair shining. I always wanted to go with him and when he would firmly tell me no and kiss my mom goodbye I remember running outside and watching the black Chevy drive away and then hiding in the Russian Olive tree trying not to cry. He was my touchstone, my protector and without him I felt adrift and frightened. This feeling lingered for many years until finally I found that some other boys could be equally as fascinating and he didn’t seem to mind the loss of interest on my part. We sometimes still went fishing together on the river or to a party on the 4th of July with my brother and my mom and I don’t remember much alone time with him, but he was often who I called when I was brokenhearted or afraid. He would listen to me and encourage me and let me know that everything would eventually be okay and I believed him and eventually it usually was. He rescued me many times from precarious places and some really bad choices and he let me learn some really tough love lessons too. As we both aged, I began to see him in a more realistic light and he became a friend. I started to worry about him more and want to take care of him and he would do things behind my back (like tell me he wasn’t driving when he was) or that he was fine when he was clearly struggling. We began a slow role reversal and I began the incredibly painful journey of learning how to hold loosely the love I have for the best person I have ever known. This picture was taken this past Christmas. I am 63 and he is 92. He is my Familia, the place I know and am known.
It’s New Years eve and I am reflecting on something wonderful. Aside from the times we live in, aside from my health, financial and relational struggles, aside from the daily reminder of prayers unanswered I know this. GOD still loves me. He loves the scrappy, crappy me. He loves the weakened me, the discouraged me, the faithful me, the me who has not given up, who has watched loved ones die, who has been rejected by those I believed would not do that because they too profess GOD, yet somehow they do. He loves the me who keeps doing things the same way, even if those ways lead me down the same rabbit hole. He loves me when I feel like he is so far away, when he doesn’t answer my prayers, when he continues to do what he will do without my assistance (I hate that one) In other words, he loves me in spite of me. So here we are in the eve of 2019 and I purpose to
- Spend more time with GOD. I notice when I don’t I become much more of that scrappy, crappy me and less of that God winged me.
- Be kind even when I don’t feel kind. In fact I notice the older I get, the more pain my body is in, the scrappy, crappier I become. So I have to be purposeful to be kind. Bite my tongue, say a prayer, pinch my skin…anything to remind me to be kind. That old saying “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” is wisdom.
- Move my body more. Last year I hurt my foot and leg badly. I was bedridden and then on a scooter or crutches for almost 7 months! I learned that I really need to move to feel like myself. It’s been 8 months now and I am starting to go for very short walks and I am lifting really light weights. I purpose to be hiking by summer.
- I purpose to have more fun and to meet new people. As I have aged it is harder to make real friends. People on social media can be great, but I miss that cup of tea and a hug kind of gal. So I am going to join some social groups wherever I end up this year. (planning on a move)
- I purpose to forgive even if it hurts like hell and even if they continue to hurt me.
Many years ago I awakened after nearly losing my life and in the aftermath of that time I found Jesus and realized that my life was no longer my own. That was over 40 years ago and to say that my life has come with challenges of all sizes would be a strong understatement. Many of my wounds were self-inflicted and many were from outside forces over which I came to understand I had no control over. I can’t tell you that my life is what dreams are made of (unless of course you are a child growing up in poverty of which a bed, hot water and shoes on ones feet is a dream.) I, like many American upper middle class children did not go without life’s necessities (unless you call time with your parents a necessity in which case some children of poverty are much richer than I.) Yet my life would have crushed the average soul. I can share all in a long rambling sentence of pain and loss with everything from rapes to children dying or taken away at the last-minute of the last day as a closet full of dreams in the form of teddy bears and little girl dresses went away with the gavel from a corrupt judge. I can share that darkness has visited me in the forms of flesh and blood, people for whom hell whispers loudly in their ears and they follow orders better than any army Sergeant. I can share that blood relations for whom most people trust became my abuser, that chemical companies altered my DNA with their chemicals, that homes were lost to indifferent neighbors who suddenly held an infinity for pesticides and herbicides. I can share that it seemed even GOD brought deep pain in the form of a lightning strike through a landline phone while I was talking. The phone blew up in my hand, the floor became my only support as my heart lost its very heartbeat and then shuddered itself awake to beat irregularly for most of its remaining years. I can share that while I lay sleeping beside my husband in my beautiful bedroom a brown recluse spider came under the covers and bit me only, not once, not twice but three times. The flesh became neucrotic, my kidneys began to fail, I vomited and lost weight and the ability to have normal movements with subsequent paralysis of the intestines and recessive dips in muscles. I can share that cancer has come not once, not twice but three times. I can share that I am married to a man whose parents wanted me gone months into the marriage and tried to reconnect him with his ex-wife who they love. I can tell you that man and I were apart for the better part of 9 years by his work and that as one point he had an affair. I can tell you that comes with a price. I can tell you I loved a young man who lived with us and helped me through my cancer (when no one else was helping me) and when his horse went blind he came to me weeping and asked for my help. I went and took homeopathy and prayer and my faith as strong as any mustard seed and after laying mud on his eyes (as Jesus had done for a blind man) one of his eyes (which had been white as a sheet) suddenly restored and the horse could see. The young man and I wept together and then I made the fatal mistake of telling him that this was God showing that he was real to the young man and that it involved his faith too. Less than two days later the horse failed and had to be put down. The young man for whom I loved like my own son left and has never spoken to me again. I can tell you that, coupled by churches asking me to leave because they didn’t like the way I told my testimony or how I led worship or taught bible study, took a great good hit upon my faith which was already weakened by illness that has NEVER left my body. There have been miracles though, healed of a coma out of ICU by Jesus coming into the coma and telling me their was work to do (I was sitting up within the hours, though I have never been fully strong again) My foot which had a 30 gallon glass water bottle fall on it and shatter, severing the artery and breaking the bone become infected so badly the Dr who attended to me feared amputation. Healed by an audible voice in the room telling me to get up and walk…which I did. Miracle after miracle with patients who came to my office or for whom I prayed with. One woman had been mentally ill for over 30 years Institutionalized and the Lord actually took her symptoms off of her through me (I had her symptoms for almost a day before he lifted them off of me and believe me that precious saint suffered) Miracles with a broken neck and miracles with encounters with the Holy spirit, so profound and holy I can’t repeat them except to say that “Ecstasy” with God is a very real thing. I had read about it in books and stories about the Saints of Old and Mother Teresa experienced it for almost a month. So I can share that the experiences with GOD and his ways has been beyond my human ability to comprehend. Demonic attacks so profound I cannot share them. Yet GOD showed up every single time in his way and in his time. I can share that watching my baby brother suffer for three years and die was one of the hardest things I have ever gone through but out of that pain came a song I birthed in the labor pain of suffering and that music project went on to win an award in 2013. The Independent music associations Folk artist of the Year. I can tell you that my suffering has been used to give water and life to orphans in Africa since 2005. So in my cracked faith I see his hand and I sense his truth, even when I don’t fit into any box that Christianity 101 defines. In my humanness I long for something easier to walk out, but I also know I can comfort with a surety of his presence and that prayers forming in my mouth and spilling forth from my tongue have been used to heal. These mysteries of God the Almighty have bewildered me and many others. My version of Christianity has not been preached from the American church pulpit, but I see that I am very biblical. So alone with that bible I seek his comfort and his hope through the years of suffering and the sheer fact that I am still here is testament sufficient to know that being a Christian is clinging to the message of grace and hope. That is what Advent is to me. A cracked faith, in a broken body, listening to bad news and clinging.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart. With all your soul and with all your might.
It’s Saturday morning at 8 am and my husband and I had an hour of God time and breakfast and then he shot out of the door to his life and I can’t be with him. This is nothing new, in fact in the 23 years of marriage most of those minutes and hours and days and weeks and months and yes years, we have been apart. At first it was because he was a truck driver and he had to go on the road. Then he was a construction worker and his jobs took him hours away for the week and then back home some weekends (others he was forced to stay and work overtime) Now he owns his own business as a handy man service and he is gone from 8am to 7pm most days of the week. He loves his work and his clients and I am happy he found his niche. I am however sitting in my beautiful cottage on the mountainside alone in pain most days. I have always had a struggle to go anywhere as I have a brain injury that makes driving tough and I am sensitive to the chemicals (most especially herbicides and pesticides) which drift and float on the air most days (especially in spring and summer) dyer sheets, perfume on peeps…the truth is to be with people I pay a high price. Yet I am a people person. This morning I realized we have lived on this mountain for 5 years. Wow. In those 5 years I have grown much older. I have lost many friends and loved ones. My neighbors on either side of us are NOT friendly. The neighbors I thought were friends turned on me (One said because I asked her to not wear patchouli when she came to my house) Our immediate families are distant. Life has taken me for a ride that I never imagined I might have. To make matters worse I fell..hard 6 weeks ago and I am unable to walk very well at all. I am in a soft cast, on crutches or on a scooter with support hose (Yea sexy). I look in the mirror and I see a very exhausted, depleted woman. Today my husband will be doing a Warrior dash with hundreds of people on the Air Force academy grounds and I will be sitting here again, alone in pain and wondering where God might be in the midst of all of this. I do have some praise to report, the beautiful birds are back singing to me, I have one lovely neighbor friend who has been very supportive of me and I have found NetFlix to be a great way to pass the hours. The Lord God is the same yesterday, today and forever more. I am the changing mercury in centigrade. So here is my coping list while waiting
- Be aware of your blessings apart from your pain. My blessings are my home, the forest, the skies, the birds, my dogs, my two or three friends, my dad, prayers, hot water, ice packs, Dr’s, words on a page, prayer sites, the bible, coloring books, spring weather and fish soup.
- Breathing in for a count of 4, hold for a count of 4 and release through your mouth for a count of 8. It relaxes the nervous system
- Bathing in minerals and clay and essential oils will help relax the systems.
- Write out your feelings on paper
- Pet your furry friends
- Document your life, either with photos or words, it will help you keep perspective
- Get a massage to help ground you while you wait
- Find online friends or bible studies or support groups while you heal
- Try to serve your fellow man every single day.
Every day we have a choice to be bitter or better, to be self centered or outward focused, to be whiny or to be content. We can chose trust over worry, we can chose gratitude over lack. Is it easy? Not at all, but it is possible. With God all things are possible.
So I will watch the world pass me by today on the outside, but on the inside I will know that God is working it all out for my good. It’s what I cling to, no matter the 40 years of waiting for his hand to move. I still believe.
I am in a season of something challenging. I won’t bore you with the details today as this post is about God in the midnight wanderings. Romans 8:38 says “Nothing shall separate us from the presence, the love of GOD” Death can’t, neither angels or demons, neither the present or the future, nor any powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all of creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus”
I took a shower at 2am, hot and thankful with the blessing of that comfort. I prayed for those less fortunate than I am, those who are in the deepest places of need and I felt renewed with purpose. I asked God to join me in my irregular symptoms, I asked him to comfort all who are in pain.
My mind wanted to go somewhere else, it wanted to be wild and frightened and angry. It wanted to be selfish and small. I just went beneath the symptoms and I felt his touch. I turned the mind to his mind “We have the mind of Christ” and I prayed to think his thoughts. When the mind went back into the groove of anything else I breathed in his peace and I exhaled the anxious thoughts. I listened to a mediation tape and I drifted.
It is now almost the new day and I am waiting for his strength to “mount up with wings like eagles to run and not grow weary to walk and not grow faint” My day does not depend on me, but on Gods mercy Romans 9:16 “It does not therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort but on God’s mercy.”
My life can certainly be challenging. I have been in the midst of waiting for a movement from God for a very long time in regards to my health. Truth is many saints died never seeing the promise. BUT GOD. It’s all on him really. Whether I live to be 100 or I die tomorrow he is GOD and I am not. I ask for this day to be okay with all of that. The fact that I have been able to do this for so long is his mercy. Nothing separates me from God…not even all the seemingly unanswered prayers.
I was just ruminating on the idea of the American church message that it is okay to be a sinner when you first come to Jesus but then, it’s time to straighten up and become new. I loved the concept so much and I tried in every way to do just that. Then reality hit me, Jesus died for sinners. Period. Sinners, people who cuss under pressure, or get selfish in pain. People who worry too much, eat too much, fall off wagons and land in the gutter…again…and lay there for awhile until Jesus picks them up, dusts them off and says “come on, I love you more than that.” Thankfully Jesus has not been like the church has been to me. Thankfully I have a lot of grace coming from Jesus and not so much coming from the church.
There is a wonderful saying that hangs in my home
Today is a good day to have a good day.
As a woman who was sent home to die when she was in her early 20″s I learned this lesson well.
Live each day as if it were your last.
What incredible wisdom! Whether we are sick or we are well, have money in our bank account or have found empty pockets, have our day planned or are just winging the world in our loneliness, are laying in a hospital bed or walking the beauty of the ocean.
Live each day as if it were your last.
When I began to understand that our daily routines are what create our beautiful life, that the laundry I am doing every single day is truly a reflection of my blessings, that my snoring husband is a reminder that I am not alone. That when I awaken in pain, I am surrounded by choices for my day. Do I give in to the pain and complain and try to get by until the next day and hope it will be better? No, for you see I have lived every single day for almost 23 years in pain. If I waited for the pain to leave before I was enjoying my life I would have missed my life. I would have missed appreciating the hot water that soothes me, the foods that nourish me, the Dr’s that assist me. I would have missed the joy of sunrises that left me breathless, the sounds of birds singing to me outside my window. I would have missed the look on my patients faces when they felt better (even if I didn’t), the baby I helped bring into this world, the tears falling down broken souls when they heard and accepted the love of Jesus into their hearts while I prayed. I would have missed birthing songs that have changed people and won an award. I would have missed the cries of the orphans in Africa for whom my barren womb (where I lamented not bearing my own baby) can now assist those who have no mother. I remember thinking that if I looked too closely at what I don’t have I would grow as bitter as the arctic winds that blow. If I live each day as if it were my last, if I poured out everything I am, in my energy, in my intention, in my love then GOD can make something beautiful out of all this pain. He has one day at a time changed the world of many because I was somehow willing to be aware that our time on this earth is short and we are given a daily gift. What we do with that gift is up to us. That gift is this day. That’s all we have. This day, this day is my favorite day! This day is my new favorite day! No matter who I am with, or if I am alone (which is most of the time) I always have the company of the Holy spirit to hang out with. He has watched my most tender of moments, the times where the pain became more than I thought I could bear, the moments of anger and frustrations because my body is so broken. I have never been alone in my sorrow or in my laughter or in my questions or in my need of wisdom. I have found that all I had to do was ask for his wisdom, his strength, his love and I am completely assured that I will have everything I need to have a most favorite day! Mother Teresa has said “We forget that we belong to one another” I am choosing today to look around my world and find my joy. Look around my home and find a need. Look around the neighborhood and find someone to smile at. To be aware of all the blessings, from dirty laundry to a snoring husband. This is the day the lord has made I will rejoice and be glad in it! *
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