Even now, with three grown sons, (and one half-way there) I often wonder what I'm writing on their hearts......
September 29, 2011
Even now, with three grown sons, (and one half-way there) I often wonder what I'm writing on their hearts......
September 28, 2011
September 26, 2011
So, maybe the first thing I would say is, remember you are not alone; pay attention to the people in your life. What are they going through?
Everyone deals with pain. I have 2 friends who have lost husbands. Another family is losing their teenage son to brain cancer and a young mom, with 2 small children, is also dying of cancer. Another friend is having a not-so-fun marriage.
My brother has lived with terrible back pain for years, and for a very long time I watched my mom shrivel up with rheumatoid arthritis.
A few weeks ago I met a little girl who had been sexually molested for years before the government finally opened it's eyes and rescued her; she will have pain and scars in her being until the day she leaves the planet.
Last summer and fall I spent a lot of time in bed, laying on my right side because that was the only place I could be where I didn't hurt. It was sooooo easy to lay there and feel sorry for myself. But then I would hear about others in pain, and, because I hurt, I could empathize. So I started to pray for the people I heard about. For a very long time praying was all I could do. When I did that, when I prayed for others, I would experience joy. Yes, some of that was because I knew there were other people out there who hurt. (misery does love company) But the real joy came in knowing I was saying, "Lord, they hurt. Please be with them. Heal them. Comfort them...." It took the focus off me and centered it on others and their need.
Another thing that helps, maybe even more than praying for others? is looking for God in my circumstance. If you are a believer in Christ, He promises to never leave us or forsake us and He is not a liar. Count the ways you see His involvement in your life, every day. Search for things. You wouldn't have to look far, I know. You could make an actual, written list, or you could just list things in your heart. But don't stop there. Thank Him for each one. Praise Him for walking this road with you and the ways you see Him hugging you through it. Each moment is a gift from Him, even the ones filled with pain.
Here are a few examples for you. Last summer I had a herniated disc that smashed the daylights out of my left sciatic nerve. The pain...I still cry if I think about it. I wouldn't wish that kind of pain on a mass murderer. I had no idea a body could feel that kind of pain and live. It broke something inside me but it's also given me so much more compassion for other hurting people than I had before. There's #1.
#2. As I was going through that time, the only thing I could do was walk. Day and night for over 2 weeks I paced our house, back and forth, forth and back. As I walked, I cried. I shook, my body vibrating with pain. Yes, I know-this sounds terribly melodramatic. I'm trying to set the stage for showing you what may be one of the sweetest gifts the Lord has ever given me: amazing time with my husband and sons. Going through a deep, deep valley with them and seeing the incredible depth of their love for me. My husband's love and compassion during that time was bottomless. He lost so much sleep walking through the nights with me, praying for me. My second oldest son did the same thing. For two different nights, (as a newlywed!) stayed here and walked the house with me. We even managed to laugh and tease each other while I was walking and weeping. I saw what an incredible, compassionate, patient, tender heart he has and was blown away by it.
My oldest son came and spent a day with me during that time. He walked with me, letting me squeeze his arm so tightly the circulation probably stopped. He cooked and baked and played with his little brother. He cleaned our kitchen and after I had surgery he brought a meal over that he had made himself. He still calls me several times a week to say hello and see how I'm progressing.
Our third son has had a more difficult road with this than his brothers have. He lives with me. He's had to be here, listening to me wonder, whine, cry, and rejoice. He's gone on countless walks with me, shared his heart with me and cheerfully helped me lift, move, cook, and clean. He's made me laugh so hard I couldn't catch my breath.
Finally, my little guy. He is constantly available, with a sweet, willing heart. He's helped me get dressed, cook, clean and do laundry-all the time without one word of complaint. During times when I've had anxiety attacks, felt fearful, or just deeply lonely he's been here, ready to hug or comfort me as only a little boy can.
Then of course, there are the little things to be thankful for. Last spring, every evening, I was able to lay in bed and watch crows by the dozens cawing and soaring right outside my bedroom window. They made me feel free and wild and whole. I sensed God loving and hugging me when I watched those crows, and I praised Him every day for sending them to our back yard.
I'm still thrilled that I can now tie my own shoes, and lift my bible...so you get the point. He is aware of our every waking moment and blessing us as we live them. Again, I want to say, count the ways you see Him.
Having a sense of humor also helps. Learn to laugh at yourself, or watch a funny movie. Listen to a comedian on Netflix. Laughter is good medicine.
We went to a cookout/bonfire at our oldest son's house last weekend. The weather was cool, the food good, and the bugs were at a minimum. We had a lot of fun laughing and pigging out with family and friends.
As the evening progressed it got a little more difficult for me to enjoy myself. I kept sitting, standing, kneeling, leaning. Finally my husband asked me if I was OK.
I said very quietly, "Oh, I just hurt a bit." We'd been talking together very quietly and I didn't think anyone was paying attention to us. I didn't want to put a damper on his evening so I added, "Do you remember what my mom said a few days before she died? 'Jude, there's always someone worse off than you are.' "
Without missing a beat my second oldest son said, "Can you imagine being the guy on the end of that?? The guy with so many things wrong with him no one can find another thing to add? 'Here lies Bob. He died of blah blah, doo doh, tee dee, froo frah......' " We laughed so hard we couldn't breath. Poor old Bob. Sorry-our family has a warped sense of humor, but you get the point. Laughing helps ease the stress.
I know this is really, really long, but I do have one more thing to share. Spend time in the word. Read the Psalms, read the old testament. Read Hebrews 11 and 12. Those are two of the most amazing chapters in the bible to me and have comforted me over and over and over again as I've gone through this time. He is near, He loves you, He is with you. Eternity is coming. We won't always hurt. Cling to that. Eternity is coming. This is just a passing through place and we will soon be gone...
September 22, 2011
September 21, 2011
September 19, 2011
September 18, 2011
September 17, 2011
September 14, 2011
September 13, 2011
September 11, 2011
no deeds can compare with yours.
All the nations you have made
will come and worship before you, Lord;
they will bring glory to your name.
For you are great and do marvelous deeds;
you alone are God.
Teach me your way, LORD,
that I may rely on your faithfulness;
give me an undivided heart,
that I may fear your name.
I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart;
I will glorify your name forever.
For great is your love toward me;
you have delivered me from the depths,
from the realm of the dead.
September 10, 2011
September 9, 2011
September 8, 2011
September 6, 2011
"Spinning." My State of Being Speech (sort of like the state of the union speech the president gives every once in awhile)
September 5, 2011
I just read one paragraph recently that really jumped out at me. It is so simple that it never occurred to me to think it. (I'll explain that after I show you the paragraph)
becomes more mysterious than ever. Those who do not really know the Lord take exception to His riddles
and paradoxes. But to know Him is to know continual, exponential growth in one's capacity to live with
contradiction. Divine contradiction is like an exotic food or music:one must acquire a taste for it. Many people, even
the very religious, have no real stomach for mysterium tremendum. They are fine when gazing up into a starry sky,
but when they encounter the infinite abyss of Christ on the human level, it turns their stomachs. This was apparently
the case with one of the great writers of the twentieth century, Franz Kafka, who when asked his opinion of Christ
answered, "He is an abyss filled with light; one must close one's eyes if one is not to fall in." Often people perform the
most astounding mental gymnastics in order to keep from falling into the mysteries of God. Such paradoxes as
predestination and free will are endlessly debated, when if only we would submit our minds to the bright
unyielding enigmas of Scripture, we would see that the New Testament plainly teaches both. Often even mature
Christians have, in some areas a monaural theology; the richness of stereo sounds like noise to their ears.
In all honesty, I'm not sure I like looking at the possibility of both predestination and free will being true, but I do love the idea. It makes Him huge....
September 4, 2011
However, the thing I wanted to do more than anything else in the world was to be a homemaker-a wife and mom.
When I started writing today I was headed in a completely different direction than where this post is taking me. I was going to write about the simple life of being a wife and mother. About guilt, wondering if I've done enough for the world, and about dreams left behind because life isn't long enough to follow all of them.
But now, when I look back at my life and those left behind dreams, I see that God has actually allowed me to be all those things. I have had the blessing and privilege of living with a cave man and his four wild little natives. I've photographed and recorded their lives for years and shared those photos with grandparents, aunts and uncles and cousins who couldn't be with me "in this jungle".
My kitchen has been a florist shop for 22 years now. Tiny grubby fingers have brought countless flowers and weeds to the sink, and sweet little boy voices have asked me to arrange them in lovely ways. Those bouquets have brought deep joy to my heart.
I was never a teacher in a classroom, but I have been teaching for 25 years now. Hiking trails, the kitchen table, the couch, the woods and the lvingroom floor have been our classroom. Growing up and living and learning with those four little natives has been more fulfilling than teaching a room full of strangers could ever have been.
And now I write. I have time to reflect on my life, my dreams and the struggles and joys of being a wife and a mom, pouring myself out on cyber-paper so others can know they're not alone.
September 2, 2011
I was thinking that during the middle of the night when suddenly, at 2:44 a.m. it hit me. Mom. I've never really wallowed through my relationship with her. Maybe it's time?
My mother was an interesting person, and that's putting it mildly. Complex, funny, simple, wise, foolish, intense, giving, needy, controlling, and whatever the opposite of "controlling" would be....those are all words that come to mind when I think about her. Having a child-mother raise me has complicated my own mothering; everything I say and do and think as a mother has to be sifted and sorted to weed out anything unhealthy that might stem from hurts or bad examples or whatever.
The first thing that comes to mind when I think of her is that I don't miss her. I miss the idea of a mom, but not her. I was heartbroken when she died, but after a week or so I actually felt relieved that that relationship was over. Finished. It was such a confusing relationship-it felt good knowing that that chapter of my life was closed and there wouldn't be any more pages written. I closed the book and haven't looked at it since.
At first mom was a very normal mom. She cooked amazing meals and baked our bread, pies and cookies from scratch. She cleaned like the pope was coming over every day and when I was sick she would gently hold my head over the toilet as I threw up and read mountains of books to me as we cuddled on the couch.
Mom had some wonderful qualities and good advice:
-She always told me, "Say yes to your kids whenever you can. Life is long and hard and will be full of "no's". Give them yeses every chance you get."
-She was adventurous. Always willing to try something new, or go somewhere new or even discuss something she knew nothing about just so she could learn something new.
-She set me free to try my wings. She encouraged me to "go for it" and not be afraid of trying new things. She encouraged me to make life rich with experiences and memories.
-She didn't try to pit me against my dad or be bitter toward him after my parents' divorced.
-She never let go of her dreams. I think it took her 3 tries before she was able to pass the test that would give her a Real Estate License. She just kept plugging away at it until she did it.
-She taught me to slow down and appreciate the beauty of the mountains, a sunset, a bug on a leaf, or the way trees grew twisted and curled by the constant mountain winds.
-She was spontaneous and always up for a walk, a ride, or a Hot-Fudge Sundae at McDonald's.
-She was willing to love and accept everyone she met, no matter what they believed or what their lifestyle was.
-She taught me to appreciate and love music.
-She could make anyplace feel like home.
-She was an optimist.
-She was willing to laugh at herself and not take life so seriously.
-She had a never ending sense of humor and laughed often.
-On my 16th birthday she took me to get my driver's license, then handed me her check book and a credit card. She showed me what they were for and how to use them and never looked back. She treated me like a responsible young adult and expected me to live up those expectations.
However, after my parents' divorce she only partially seemed like a mom to me. She gave me no boundaries growing up. No bedtime. No rules about what I did with my time, watched on TV, or what I ate. She never asked me if I'd done my homework or checked my grades. Even when I was 9 or 10 I can remember feeling like I was my own parent. Then, to add to that pressure, my mom turned to me for comfort. It got so weird that she would send me Mother's Day cards thanking me for taking such good care of her. I was "asked" to be a mom to my mom just when I needed a mom the most. I know she didn't mean to put that kind of pressure on me, but the pressure was there, under the surface, giving me the feeling that I truly had no one to turn to.
I think my brother Jimmy's death was the straw that broke the camel's back for mom. For a long time she just checked out. I'd get home from school and start dinner or work on homework, expecting her to walk in the door around 6pm. More often than I care to remember the phone would ring around dinner time and mom would say she was going out to dinner with friends and to expect her when I see her. There were many nights when she wouldn't come home until 2 or 3 in the morning and she wouldn't be sober when she got there. I was only 11 or 12 and had a vivid imagination. Every strange noise I heard was a bad guy stalking around outside. I was very lonely, terrified, and the pain of losing first my dad, then Jimmy, then seemingly my mom was more than I could stand. I'd frequently wander around the apartment, pacing, and crying until mom got home. I'd help her get undressed and into bed then I'd finally get to go to bed myself.
In high school she compared me to other girls such as the cheerleaders bouncing around the football field and say things like, "Look. Look at those girls! Why can't you be like them? They're so full of life, so pretty. They know how to have fun!"
One time she looked at me and said, "Well. you're cute. You'll never be pretty, but you are cute." Um, thanks mom?
As a teen I managed to date a few old fashioned boys who would actually ask her what time she wanted me home. "Whenever you bring her home is fine with me. Just have a good time!" It was very scary to be that "on my own". When I was 16 she said, "Judy, you're going to be dating now and spending time with boys. Let's go to the doctor and get some birth control. It's OK to have fun, but you don't want to get pregnant yet."
I think that was the moment I lost respect for her.
She raised me with weird advice and what she proudly called Reverse Psychology.
Some of the advice she gave me:
-be careful how you pray, you might get what you ask for.
-don't trust men, Jude. They cannot be trusted.
-if your husband buys new underwear it means he's having an affair.
As for the reverse psychology? I'm not sure if I got that treatment because I'm such a headstrong person, or if she thought that was just the way you raise kids....you tell them to do the opposite thing you want them to do so they'll actually do what you want them to do in the first place. All that did was make me angry, hurt and confused...
So, there you have it. Or I should say, there I have it. Mom in living color and black and white. If you think about yesterday's post, this would most certainly fall under the line: past. The painful part. The part I still don't like to look at and wish I could change....
September 1, 2011
The lesson started out with the parable of the talents. In case you're not familiar with the story I'll share it with you:
"For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, 'Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.' His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.' And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, 'Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more.' His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.' He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, 'Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.' But his master answered him, 'You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' Matt. 25:14-29
The teacher of this study comes at life with the belief that God is sovereign over every tiny detail of our lives. That everything we experience comes from Him and makes us who we are. Whether you believe that or not, could you just pretend, for the few minutes you're here, that that's what you believe also? Thanks. :-)
OK-moving right along. After reading those verses you might be thinking, "Hm. A talent in bible terms was about 1000.00$. No one has ever handed me 5000.00$, or 2000.00$ or even 1000.00 bucks to see what I would do with it...." But you'd be wrong. According to the lesson, we've all been given talents. Every person on the planet. Our talents are our lives. Our experiences, our backgrounds, our gifts, etc. All the things that have flowed in, around and over you and make you who you are are your talents.
Can you go get a piece of scrap paper and draw a large rectangle on it? Then, write these on each of the 4 sides:
on the top side write:
Intimacy with God (really focus on the word "iintimacy" here. You know what that means.
On the left side:
("past" in this instance means the painful things that have happened to you. Hurts, rejection, sexual abuse, emotional or physical abuse...things that make you cringe and that you wish weren't there. The things you want to forget and often ignore.)
God has allowed those things to happen to you for a reason. Each thing has been filtered through His fingers. Think about Job. Satan couldn't do a bloody thing to him without God's permission. God wanted those things to happen to Job for a reason and the things that have happened to us are for a purpose as well. God promises in Romans 8:28
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purposee.
On the bottom side:
(this is stuff like where you were born, your ethnic background, your education, your work experience, the hard things you've gone through like infertility, singleness, being poor etc.)
On the right side:
Our spiritual gifts
(personally, I'm still trying to figure out what mine is/are)
These things are your boundary lines. They make up who you are. Look at your rectangle again. Do you pay attention to each side? Are you living in intimacy with God? Are you using the gifts He's given you? Do you ask Him to use your painful past and your life experiences to benefit others? Or are you ignoring any or all of those? If you are ignoring any one of them there's someone else around who isn't. Satan. The devil. Wormwood. He is just longing for you to ignore those boundary lines so he can stand there. If you're not living in intimacy with God you'll be like a kite without a tail, floating pell mell all over the place in confusion. He wants to take your past and your life experiences and tell you those things were not a part of God's plan. That God wasn't there, doesn't love you and He's clueless....
But, God gave you your past and your gifts and your life experiences. He wants to use those things in your life to benefit others, bring glory to Himself and good to you. One of the best things I ever did was write out the story of my early childhood to the place where I met Jesus. My past is not nearly as horrible as what other people have experienced, but it was painful. But, by writing it down I was able to see God's fingerprints all over it. I could see Him carrying me and loving me when I thought I was alone. And it's given me compassion for others, humility, and an understanding of how people feel who have been rejected and ignored.
When you claim your past and your life experiences and ask God to use them, Satan is defeated. He can no longer lie to you about God's love and His character. When you give to others out of your pain it gives glory to God. And in the end, if we love Him that's what we want, isn't it? His glory? We need to live like not one single thing we've gone through is in vain. Examine your life and look for Him. You'll see Him there if you look for Him. And then think about this. Think about your boundary lines and how God is using them in your life to bring Glory to Himself, to give to those around you, and to bring good to you.
Then think about Romans 8:28 again.
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purposee.
Then you'll be able to say with David in Psalm 16:6
The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.