Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Precious Holy Sacred Life

Life, to life, if Christianity means one thing, it means the preciousness of life. The fragile, tender balance of life.  All human life, from conception to natural death is precious.  It is the in between that I sometimes have trouble honoring and revering and recognizing as sacred.  Not the sweet kinky haired little girl who shyly says "Yes, Ma'am."  I know she is precious.  But the blonde boy who calls me a name and says foul bullying things to his peers, I forget the sacred in him sometimes.

That is what I am working on now--life, holy precious sacred life and seeing it in everyone.  Seeing Jesus in everybody, even the ones who are hard to love.  The ones who are hard to love probably need it the most anyway.

To life!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Take My Hand

As a child I knew Christ's friendship and love.  Not every minute did I remember Him, but throughout my day I would pray--Help me, Thank You,  Keep me safe, Keep my family safe and so on.  I was a good girl and I generally followed rules and that was in part to stay in friendship with Jesus.  I knew that I was fearfully and wonderfully made for some special purpose.

As I aged and I was bullied on the bus and experienced the usual disappointments of the teenage years I was less in contact with God.  I developed a more formal relationship in some ways.  I became more self reliant and less the little child trusting in God.  But, I still prayed, still knew that I was made to do great or small things for God with my life.

As a young adult I was smart and capable.  I didn't think I needed God always to be by my side.  Effort, that is what it took, hard work, honesty, and grit.  I found success in my career, nobody handed that to me, I worked for it.  But, I still loved God and I think I still trusted Him.

Then in the adult years lots of hard and sad things weighed me down.  I ran headlong into a marriage with a man I really didn't know and really didn't have much in common with and neither of us was easygoing.  My dad passed away before I was thirty.  I went through years of infertility only to have an ectopic pregnancy. And there was a cancer scare and surgery by an oncologist.  And although I was sure I loved God and wanted to be happy in heaven with Him for eternity, life was hard and taking too long.  When people talked of God's love, I knew that it must be there, but I didn't ever feel it.

I was depressed and anxious, lonely and frustrated.  I went on a spiritual journey to find where God was in my life.  I sought spiritual direction, went to confession, sought counseling, talked with trusted friends and family.  Ultimately, I came to the realization that my life was drudgery, pain and suffering, and these sorrows were not a call from God to suffer.  I told myself that God put me there, made me be there, but really, I am coming to recognize that my headlong self directedness brought me to the depression and my pride kept me there.

So, I have made changes.  I am not proud of myself or the changes I made.  It makes me ashamed to be a living example of a failed marriage.  But, if I let my pride go, I have to say that I have rediscovered the God who never left me, who has always been with me.  I feel God's love again and I rejoice with Him throughout my day in His many blessings.  I have taken Jesus' hand and I walk with Him through the day.  My life is a mystery and not what I had planned, not at all, but it is good.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Profound Love

I have a friend who has a son, almost 30 years old, who had a severe brain injury about 25 years ago. I will call him Sam in this post. Since that time, the young man has been paralyzed and can't respond in meaningful ways to most of what happens to him every day.  At least that is how it seems until you get to know him better.

I stayed with this friend for a while and since I lived with them, I helped to put Sam to bed on the nights he was with us.  I was initially fearful that I would hurt him or somehow make him sick through my contact with him.  It was hard to know where to look, or what to say to someone who seems not to be there. My friend talked to him and provided his care and loved on him, I talked to her, asked questions, and eventually came to recognize some ways that Sam responded or reacted to us.  I became part of the family.

I once saw Sam laugh, silently laugh, but unmistakably laugh at a funny situation.  I was aware of his making the system "alarm" just to say "hi," or so it seemed.  I saw him have a seizure and I saw unmistakable pain written all over his face at times. I have seen him be wakeful and sleepy. Usually he is peaceful and patient and calm.  Sam is a good listener, he is the strong silent type.

I never truly learned to do the nursing type care for Sam that his mother provides each day.  There is a nurse at home with him during the day, and a parent provides care at night.  I can't be left alone with Sam because I can't handle the emergency care he might need at any moment.  My friend and I grew closer as we talked about our lives and put Sam to bed.

A couple of months ago I moved out.  It was time for me to restart my life and enjoy more privacy and responsibility.  I love my new digs. I have rarely been lonely and if anything, I am so busy I don't have time to even finish the unpacking.  But, sometimes when it is quiet and time to turn in for the night, I think of putting Sam to bed.  It is a process that involves a lot of steps.  But, I can't even explain or understand fully myself the joy of caring for another.  The profound love that I experience as part of the ceremony of putting Sam down for the night is something I miss.

It happens that I go to my friend's house a couple of times a month and when I do, I help to put the boy to bed.  It is grace.  It is profound love to witness and take part in the care of this life so dependent on us for each aspect of life.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Old Black Magic

The problem with technology is, the moment it is "born" it is already starting to get old.  I have an old Singer sewing machine from the turn of the century before last.  It was probably made in the early 1900s.  That old lady still works.  She doesn't zig zag or do anything fancy, but she also doesn't use electricity and works like a charm.  On the other hand, I have a 4 year old laptop that is getting really old and will probably stop working one of these days.

At my job we don't have enough technology to go around, it gets hard use and turns old fast.  The teacher laptops that we had 10 years ago are no longer being repaired.  They are slow and clunky.  But, better than nothing.  Our kids have one to one technology with tablets, but when the device is left at home or broken they have none on none. So teachers use the old black teacher laptops to fill in.

We are fast becoming a world of haves and have-nots in technology.  As an old brain trying to keep up or catch up with the new stuff, I can tell you that it is harder to leap in than to learn as the technology develops. Newer faster shinier is always better.  But, when students have nothing, old and clunky is better than nothing.  I have around 80 old clunky laptops.  They are highly prized.  In fact, they are so special, I call them the Old Black Magic.  You can bet that in a 100 years these old black magic laptops will no longer be working.  Their time has already come and gone.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

This Little Light of Mine

Shine, shine, shine.....I can only reflect God's glow, but even that much shining can light up the darkness. And the darkness is sin, anxiety, fear, hate, revenge.....I am trying to recognize and know the difference between feeling an emotion which can be neither good nor bad, and internalizing a deeper message of fear, or lack of trust, or dread.

One example for me is, just because a bad thing happens doesn't mean that everything from now on will be horrible.  A bad or unfortunate event doesn't mean I am being punished.  Tragedies don't just happen to bad people.  I don't deserve what I get.  I can be a very good person and suffer from the sins of others or the fallen nature of the world or my own human mistakes.

But, the truth is this, I am neither a very bad person, nor a very good person.  I am a sinner, but I don't wallow in the sin or excuse it.  I try to do better.  I am called to holiness and I try to listen to that call. 

And in this world bad things happen.  God doesn't make them happen or prevent them from happening.  Sometimes I accuse God of loving a good story so much that He allows interesting things to transpire that are not very much fun.  But, truth be told, I love a good story too and if my whole life were sunshine and rainbows, I would be bored out of my mind.

I am trying to feel and not deny my feelings.  I am trying not to blame others for the problems I encounter.  I am human, flesh and blood.  I make mistakes.  But, I can light the candle again.  I can sing "This little light of mine...."

Monday, October 3, 2016

Today, Tomorrow and Always

God stays the same.  Always.  Always good, always merciful, always full of compassion.  God doesn't change.  It helps me to remember this.  It really does.  Because my tiny human understanding can feel abandoned or punished or lost when things aren't going my way.  God, do You love me?  and the answer is always yes.

But, lost in my own understanding of things I forget.  I lose my way.  I hurt, and lack trust.  At least I do for a while.  When the storm is raging I need to hunker down and feel my feelings of despair.  As the storm starts to diminish I start to reflect and question my reaction.  Why am I so willing to think that I am abandoned, that I don't measure up, that nothing will ever go right and nobody cares about me because I am essentially unlovable?

I am lovable to God. Sometimes there is a lot I can learn from the storms and trials.  Sometimes I learn compassion.  I am growing in trust for God.  God is there for me, just not a fairy Godfather protector, defender, and fixer. Troubles happen.  And God is still speaking to me, calling me out of my self absorbed self pity, calling me to holiness.  Calling me to love.

And the other day during the height of my sad, lonely, abandoned, frustrated feelings when I thought I could never smile again and I deserved all the bad things that were happening to me, I noticed that when I cleaned up the breakfast dishes I had unknowingly dropped a piece of banana peel on the floor where I walk to do the dishes.  When I saw it, I had the immediate feeling that God was telling me a joke about slipping on a banana peel and I smiled.

Life isn't about waiting for things to go my way and to get the things I want.  God wants me to enjoy it all, feel it all, even the sad parts.  They make the joy greater when it comes.  God is the same, always.  God is love, even or especially in my darkest hour.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Carpal Tunnel, Stab 2

I had both my hands "done" for carpal tunnel syndrome this spring.  The surgery was an immediate success.  I can't even say that it was very painful. My hands were a little stiff and sore, but other than that, yay!  Before the surgery my fingers had almost no feeling.  I would stab myself with a needle while quilting and wouldn't know until the deep pain alerted me to the injury.  I looked at such tasks as sorting or moving papers and processing books and wondered how I would do them with my useless hands.

Feeling was restored in my fingers immediately after the surgery.  It was wonderful, a miracle.  I even had leave from work for almost a month in the beautiful spring weather.  Carpal tunnel surgery was the best thing since sliced bread.  I could quilt again and sort papers and process books. Success!

Then sometime last month many months after the initial surgery I started to notice that my thumbs were sore.  Not a little bit sore, but screaming in pain if I touched them in the tender spot sore.  The nerves were inflamed.  And sadly, more in my right dominant thumb than in my left.

Consulting Dr. Google, my first line physician of choice, I discovered that some people have this problem.  The good Doc didn't give me a good solution for this.  Physical therapy, maybe.  So, I rubbed my sore thumb and massaged the nerve leading to it. I stretched with rubber bands and tried to imagine what other painful and difficult thing the PT might have me do.  The thumbs have gotten a little better.  I have hope that I might eventually get over this problem.  Even if I don't, I wouldn't trade the carpal tunnel surgery.  It gave me back so much.

The lesson for me is that in this world there are troubles.  Learning to move forward and not to be caught in regret and second guessing myself is the best way to live.  Carpal tunnel surgery was a success and now I have a new challenge.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Patatas, Potatoes, Potattos

Any way I say it, a potato is still a potato.  It doesn't even matter how I spell it.  Still a lowly earth vegetable, is a potato. Lots of things are that way.  It is what it is what it is.  Renaming it doesn't change it one iota. So, though the potato doesn't change, I can.

I have been revisiting my life, the choices I make, the mistakes, the way I react, the things I believe.  I can and must change.  But, for me at least, change isn't easy.  I have many outstanding qualities but, among the characteristics that have caused me grief are that I am a pleaser.  I want people to like me.  I have poorly maintained boundaries, I let myself be stomped all over.  I see this at work and other places.

Being a pleaser isn't bad, not being assertive or a whiner is not bad.  It is not bad to be unselfish.  These character defects can also be strengths.  Nothing wrong with a potato no matter how you spell it or pronounce it, but it does need a little cleaning up and preparation to become a thing of beauty and a joy forever.

So, I am working on scrubbing up my defects and figuring out how to turn them around and to become the person I want to be.  What kind of potato do I like?

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Tour De Bloggers

In 2016 I took a little trip, started out with my sister and then I gave her the slip, I didn't take the bacon, but I ate a lot of beans and I met friends in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa and I wore some mighty smelly jeans.....

Since I have been reading / writing blogs I have come to know in an intimate personal way some very nice people.  When I have read daily about their thoughts, dreams, challenges, and daily struggles, I have come to feel as though I knew them.  Kind of like celebrities, only more real....

Some of these gals have gone on to become real celebrities and authors...Pioneer Woman, Jennifer Fulwiler, Melanie Shankle, Sophie Hudson.....And some are just celebrities to me.  Some of them, I have followed to other social media and for various reasons, few of us are still blogging.  But, some of these friends, have been mine for 7 years or more.  I have seen pictures of their children, their grandbabies, their runt pigs, their dreams of chickens, husband's job search, favorite recipes, most embarrassing moments.  I know most of them better than I do most of my friends in real life.

So, when I had a gap of time just waiting for changes to happen in my life, it made sense to me to go around and meet these people.  So, in the middle of June, I did.  I took a little trip.  I stayed at houses of people I didn't know. I ate their food.  I petted their dogs and read to children.  Every one of them was welcoming.  Every one of them was delightful. I would buy the house and move next door to them all, were it possible.

My son got married soon after I got home and then I took another trip and then school started so I never got around to the nice thank you notes I had planned to write.  This in no way makes up for that error, but I want to publically thank Jody and Sharon and Tami for their sweet generosity to me in June.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Back in the Saddle Again

So, lots of life has happened.  I have written posts that no one saw.  I have learned to be me.  It wasn't always an easy task.  I have missed writing and posting on the Blog.  I have things to say.  I know more about life than I did.  I am closer to God.

I have felt the sting of judgment.  I have been the source of gossip and hatred.  I have been lied to and about.  I am trying to see things in perspective.  I am trying to see the good as well as the bad.  When I let go and trusted in God, I began to find peace, serenity and joy.

My life is better than it has been for many many years.  I am ready to saddle up and ride out into the blogosphere again.  I have some small things to say.