Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Lonely?


My husband Jim was out on the road for most of September carrying pets across the country to waiting masters.  So many friends asked me how I managed while Jim was gone since I am not use to having Jim gone.  They asked if I was lonely with him gone. 

My answer was “no, not really”.  But we were also texting or talking to each other daily.  A couple of times I just really wanted to talk to him about something specific and I was able to call him and have that conversation.  Knowing someone loves me and is thinking about me even in their absence does not produce loneliness.  At least for me. 

But I have known loneliness in my life.  As the old western country song says, “sleeping single in a double bed”, now that is loneliness.  When I was married to my first husband, he was out wining and dining clients while I stayed home and raised small babies by myself.  Some nights he came home, some nights he didn’t.  But the expectation was always there that since we were married he would come home.  I never mastered the art of giving that expectation to God even though I had plenty of nights of practice.  In hindsight, I don’t know for sure that God wanted me to give that expectation up.  Marriage is about being faithful to the one you have committed yourself to.  And that was not happening in our marriage. 


Being divorced was much less lonely because I was not continually dealing with unmet expectations, resulting in heart ache and disappointment.  Honestly I can say I don’t remember being lonely during my 13 years as a single parent.  Exhausted – yes, doubts about parenting – yes, but loneliness – no!  

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Happy Sad

The first time I heard the saying, “happy sad” was from the Amy Grant song So Glad.  This was back in 1983 and I was going through a very dark year in my life.  And this song and those words spoke volumes to me.  Because that is exactly how I felt – happy sad.

Yesterday I felt that way again.  I took my daughter, Narissa, age 33, to the doctor.  This doctor is a specialist of immunology.  Narissa has been diagnosed with Common Variable Immune Deficiency.  Basically meaning her entire immune system is bad.  The little guys that are suppose to be guarding her body from the big bad everyday germs are sleeping on the job.  They may not even be sleeping, they may have vacated the premises.  They suspect this is why Narissa has had non stop 24/7 head pain and many other issues for 10 years now. 

Knowing Narissa’s childhood physical problems I asked if this is some diagnosis that kids can be born with and if so what are they symptoms.  As the extremely kind and knowledgeable nurse started giving the deluge of symptoms, in my mind I was seeing my son, Byron, as a young child.  As most of you who have read my blog for anytime know, Byron passed away last year, 10 days after receiving a heart transplant.  He was 34 at the time.  Both Byron and Narissa had many of the symptoms Nurse Monica shared with us.  Then she summed it up by saying many of the children that have this immune deficiency diagnosis have cardiomyopathy when they get older.  Which all has to do with a heart valve problem.  Byron was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy in his early 20’s and had this heart valve problem. 

I shared with Monica a little bit about Byron’s physical history and shared that his cousin was also diagnosed with cardiomyopathy at age 14.  She then said that this immune deficiency has been genetically traced back to people from German descent and asked if our family came from German descent.  Well pretty close, my dad’s family came from Austria

One of the major symptoms of immune deficiency is the body’s inability to fight infection.  To this day, even after an extremely thorough autopsy, the doctors do not know why Byron died.  Their best guess is that the infection they thought they had fought off with multitudes of antibiotics right after his heart transplant came back with a vengeance and took his life in a matter of minutes.

I am so happy that after 30 years of stomach problems with no cause and after 10 years of non stop head pain with no cause, Narissa has a diagnosis that makes sense.  And a diagnosis that can be treated, even if she receives treatment for the rest of her life.  But my heart is broken once again to think if we had had this knowledge when Byron was alive, he may still be alive today and leading a productive life. 

But in it all, I still confess “God is Good” and “His ways are not my ways”, Isaiah 55:8.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Winners




Philippians 3:16
“Only let us live up to what we have already attained.”

If you are a Believer then you have already attained eternal life with Jesus Christ our Lord.  God is calling us to live as if we truly know we have eternal life.  A life of no tears, no sorrow, where all needs, wants and desires have been fulfilled.  A life with no sin, no temptation, no heart ache, no pain.  Living now as if we already have what is to come. 

Last week I went into a convenience store and the clerk said to me as I entered, “Where’s that smile?  It can’t be all that bad.”  I said to her “Thank you for reminding me.  Unfortunately sometimes I have to be reminded to smile.”  And I was having a good day.  I had plenty to smile about. 

Some people call this “posturing”.  In sales it can be called it “assuming the deal” or “assumptive selling”.  Some people call it “hypocritical” because we are acting different than what really is.  We are acting like we have it together when we don’t.  We are acting like we have already made the sale, when we haven’t. 

I would challenge us to go a little deeper thinking this through.  Is it “hypocritical”?  I don’t think so.  The reality is we do have eternal life if we are believers so why not act like it.  Does it mean we have to be all happy and carefree all the time?  Absolutely not.  But we do need to hold onto the joy and the hope that God has infused into us with His Spirit.  Galations 2:20 says “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”  Christ lives in us so let Christ be seen in us. 


We have won the war so let us act like winners during the battles!  

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Fear Factor


In a previous blog I wrote about being without a phone for three days and the fears and apprehensions I had to deal with because of that.

Throughout my life I find that what I feared has come upon me.  (Job 3:25 “What I feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me.”) 

There have been three things in life I feared - that kind of paralyzing fear: 1) fear of losing my husband to another women - happened with my first husband (1982); 2) fear of losing one of my children to death - Byron passed away a year ago; 3) fear of pain - two broken ankles (2007 and 2013); totally crippled in a three day period and told I may never walk again (diagnosis – rheumatoid arthritis changed to poly arthritis once I started walking again (1981); almost lost my eyesight to an infection (1984); a pain on Mothers Day that was so intense it took me 45 minutes to walk 150 feet to the car from a public restaurant, sometimes laying down on the ground in the fetal position (diagnosis - twisted tumors which resulted in a complete hysterectomy 1999); day after Mothers Day was run off the road in my car which flipped over on its side in an irrigation ditch and started to fill with water (2004).

Fear stops us from seeing God for who He is.  Resulting in fear stopping us from doing what God wants us to do.  Did you know the command “fear not” is stated in the Bible more times than any other command such as “love God” or “love others”?

My life verse I adopted shortly after becoming a Christian is Isaiah 41:10 “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you, I will help you; I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.”  To be honest, I am not sure what I was going through and why I chose this verse when I did, but it is a verse I have clung to over the last 40+ years.  There were times I was just clinging to these words by the tips of my finger nails but I held on – because once I had tasted God’s goodness, I had nothing else to cling to. 




Wednesday, August 14, 2013

No Phone


Several weeks ago I was by myself for three days with no phone and Jim (hubby) had left town.  I was without a phone as the sim card I had received with my new phone was not working so I had to wait for a new sim card to be sent to me.  I did have the two dogs with me.  Jim left the day following the one year anniversary of Byron’s death.    I was beginning my third week of being out of a cast and walking from my broken ankle. 

I wondered how I would do without a phone and thought it would be a good test of my faith in God to protect me. 

How did the pioneers live without being able to have instant access via phone to another person?  How did I live 10 years ago without a cell phone?  I wouldn’t dream of going on a trip today without a cell phone yet prior to 10 years ago I traveled with two small children without a phone into some long desolate stretches of road and never thought anything about it.  

Isn’t it amazing how technology has given us so much but has also given us fears and apprehensions that never existed before?  In my life God has used technology or the lack of technology to increase my faith in Him.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Anny's Courage


This last weekend I attended a baby shower for a girl I actually babysat along with her sisters when they were small.  Anny is taking a new “adventure” in life, as she puts it.  Anny is single and because of physical reasons can not have children.  A co-worker’s daughter (who is a drug addict) had a child and does not want to keep the child.  Anny was asked by the mother and the grandmother (coworker) if she would consider raising Eli.  Eli is a beautiful 8 month old who was born while his mom was on drugs.  So Eli suffers symptoms of his mom’s drug addiction. 

Since I was a single parent, not by choice, for 13 years, I have some idea of the struggles Anny will encounter in this adventure.  I truly admire her courage for venturing on this unknown path of life.  Anny works full time, and like most of us, does not make a ton of money.  She lives in a one bedroom apartment and is currently looking for a two bedroom apartment.  Materialistically, Anny doesn’t have much.  But what she does have is her faith in God and strong family support.  And when the rubber meets the road, these are the things that count. 

Courage – “mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty”. 

2 Timothy 1:7 – “For God did not give us a Spirit of fear but of power and love and self-control.” 

It never ceases to amaze me how God's power and His love can take you on a venture you would never have planned for or by yourself.  

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Peace


Philippians 4:7  “The peace of God that transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

The dictionary’s definition of peace states that peace is: 1) a state of tranquility or quiet; 2) freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions; 3) harmony in personal relations; 4) a state of concord or tranquility.

I call this worldly peace.  This kind of peace can only exist in the absence of difficult situations.  As it relates to the above definition: 1) absence of noise or commotion; 2) absence of oppressive thoughts or emotions; 3) absence of strife; 4) absence of discord.

God’s peace which is referred to in Philippians 4:7 can coexist with the most difficult situations.  That is because God’s peace is transcendent – it rises above both the circumstance and understanding.  The dictionary’s definition for transcend is: 1) to rise above or go beyond the ordinary limits of; 2) to triumph over the negative or restrictive aspects; 3) to be prior to, beyond, and above (the universe or material existence); 4) to outstrip or outdo in some attribute, quality, or power

I have personally experienced this peace several times in my life.  My first experience with the peace of God happened 3 weeks after I accepted Christ into my life.  I received a phone call on a Saturday afternoon from my first husband’s girlfriend - that is when I found out my husband had been having an affair for several weeks. 

Another time was when my son, Byron, was born.  The doctors gave him less than a 50% chance of living and said if he made it the first 72 hours of life, he would live.  I remember going home from the hospital and sleeping soundly between hours 48 and 60 – knowing beyond any doubt that if we lost Byron, God would see me through it. 

Another time was when Byron had his first open heart surgery at age 2 – I remember him being wheeled on the bed into the operating room and he had to pass through these double doors that had two teddy bears painted on them waving to the people on the outside of the operating room.  Of course we were at a Children’s hospital.  While we waited in the family room I had such a peace that I was able to work on my Sunday School lessons for the next week.  This peace was not centered on Byron surviving these situations, it was centered on God taking care of me no matter what happened. 

And most recently when Byron passed away.  I felt God’s peace once again in the hours we spent saying good by to Byron as he lay passed in the hospital room. 

There have been other times I have experienced this peace of God but this is only a blog, not a book, so I will limit my shared experiences.  According to the definition of worldly peace, I should not have had peace at any of these times.  But God is greater than this world and His love and His power and His care extend beyond all we know in our finite world.   



Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Making New Memories


Making New Memories
Day 312 from GriefShare Daily Devotional Emails

“As you move forward on your journey, you create new memories each day. Enjoy the good memories of the past, but be aware of the new memories that occur daily.”

Today a friend called me on the spur of the moment and asked if I wanted to go and watch a mutual friend’s children ride in 4H competition.  I immediately said yes as I remembered the above words I had just finished reading on Day 312 of Through a Season of Grief daily devotional emails. 

I have been just a bit concerned because a year later most the memories I have of Byron are when he was in the hospital.  Now granted over the previous year and a half he was in the hospital a lot.  But I would like to start remembering Byron when he was somewhat healthy and not in the hospital. 

Remembering Good Memories
Day 311


”Flashbacks and reruns of disturbing memories can be exhausting. For those in grief, the memories can hit you unexpectedly. Time will fade the bad memories, but be sure to make a conscious effort to remember the good.”

So I plan to make a conscious effort to remember Byron when he was not in the hospital.  

Monday, July 29, 2013

Deliberate Dependency


“I am calling you to live in joyful dependence on Me.  Many people view dependence as a despicable condition, so they strive to be as self-sufficient as possible.  This is not My way for you!  I designed you to need Me continually – and to delight in that neediness.” ` from Jesus Today by Sarah Young.

Wow!  Is that a lot to swallow?  Delighting in my neediness on God.  We are trained from childhood here in the US to be self-sufficient.  When I was a single parent I was involved with a county government program called Self Sufficiency – a program to help single moms get back on their feet by giving them skills to work to make a living for their family.  It also helped them find affordable housing.  In fact my rental was the first Section 8 housing in the entire town where I lived.  I even spoke to a couple of groups of congress representatives as well as to private foundations promoting this program.  Was that bad?  No I don’t think so.

I remember one Sunday evening when the kids and I went to church and very surprisingly came home with bags of groceries that my church family had collected on our behalf.  I remember sitting on the floor of our kitchen just crying – grateful that we would have food to eat and humbled that these wonderful people would give of themselves so much and almost on the brink of humiliation that I was in this spot. 

I will just go on the record and say I am not a good receiver.  I love to give but I don’t receive well, especially to the degree of my neediness.  The greater my neediness the greater my humiliation.  God has spent years trying to teach me to be a joyful receiver.  I have improved but have quite a ways to go. 

Even when I fell and broke my ankle this last in April, while I am sitting on the ground outside my home with my leg facing one way and my foot facing another, the second thought I had after thinking, “Man does this hurt” was “OK God, I evidently did not learn it the first ankle break 6 years ago so we are going to have another go of it”.  I feel overall I handled this break much better than I did 6 years ago in several ways, and one of those ways was becoming dependent on my husband and daughter and friends and not feeling humiliated by it.  My dependence on God was a given in this case.

I think I will spend a lifetime working at a healthy balance between self sufficiency and deliberate dependence on God. 


Friday, July 26, 2013

Strength to Strength




Years ago I had a very close friend who had cancer.  Three times her cancer went into remission.  There were times when Sheryl had just enough strength to wake up and open her eyes and there were times when she had enough strength to actually get out of bed and perform daily activities.  At this time, years ago, I came across Psalm 84:7, “They go from strength to strength, till each appears before the God in Zion.”  This verse so identified Sheryl and her daily struggle for energy and strength. 

God says He is our strength.  When we are aware of our weakness – which is a very uncomfortable place to be – God wants us to turn to Him for His strength.  Sometimes He gives us an abundant amount of strength and sometimes He gives us only enough strength just for that moment.  The abundant provision is definitely more dramatic and more satisfying but the strength for only the moment keeps us close and coming back for more.

After Byron, my son, passed away a year ago I would go out for walks.  There were times I had to literally find some place to sit down or lean against a tree because I could not breathe.  I felt as if I had been shot through the heart, the pain was so intense.  There were times I wasn’t sure I would even be able to physically walk back home because I was having so much trouble breathing.  Then there were days I could make the entire walk without stopping one time. 

Either way, God desires for our own good, that we be radically dependent on Him.  This flies in the face of all the self sufficient messages we hear every single day.  Another struggle of “being in the world and not of the world”.  Choose today to live in His strength, whatever amount He chooses to give, in whatever way He chooses to give.  


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Counter Attack


Yesterday was the one year anniversary of the death of my son, Byron.  Expecting it to be a difficult day the family had made plans for the evening to all get together at my daughter’s home and eat some of Byron’s favorite foods such as wings and Magnum ice cream bars. 

The night before I went to bed praising God. I made the decision to praise God all day yesterday no matter what.  I know from the Bible and I know from tons of personal experience that God truly does inhabit the praises of His people.  I also know beyond any doubt that Satan has to flee when God’s people praise Him.  So not knowing how hard and difficult yesterday would be, I made the choice to praise God through song and prayer and spoken words through out the day.  And the one year anniversary day turned out to be a good day filled with bittersweet memories, family time and laughter, and new memories made. 

As my husband and I sat in a coffee shop we started talking about how the day was going.  I told him what my plan had been and then got to think that maybe this is the way God wants us to treat every day of our life.  Maybe this is what putting the armor of God on is all about.  Entering the day, expecting Satan to do all he can to cause our downfall, and counter attacking with praises for our Lord and King. 


I have to admit I have never truly understood what putting the armor of God on means for me, and maybe God is teaching me this firsthand.  Something to ponder… 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Joy


Tomorrow will be the one year anniversary of my son’s, Byron, death.  Today I had a hard time getting out of bed.  I was thinking how for weeks and months after Byron’s death getting out of bed was a major accomplishment as was fixing meals and other menial responsibilities.  Going to the post office or grocery store was a good distraction from the constant pain.  They also reminded me that life does go on.  God’s Word, the Bible, was the life vest I clung to just to make it through each day.

Then time evolved and going to the grocery store and the post office were distractions not from the pain but from my “life vest” – God’s Word.   I never even saw it happen – it just happened.  Over time I once again became busy, busy with projects and people.  I was happy for the first time in a long time.  I was more carefree and not so laden with pain.  But I was distracted from my first love – God.  I was happy but not joyful.

Then I broke my ankle.  All the distractions went away because they had to go away.  I was once again clinging to God and His Word during the pain and the fear.  I once again developed a routine where God was the first one I met with in the morning before even getting out of bed.  For the first time in weeks that deep seated bitter sweet joy returned. 

Then once again as I was able to walk free of the knee scooter and crutches, life’s activities picked up.  My routine changed again.  I could actually now cook a dinner and make a bed and walk up and down the stairs and do laundry.  I found I now had to discipline myself to meet with God every morning.

How frustrated God must get with me but His mercy wins out because He knows me and He loves me in spite of myself.  He knows as humans we have to discipline ourselves to return to our First Love when it should come natural.  But sin has taken that naturalization away.  So we have to work at it. 


I think what is important here, is that I now realize it.  I realize how fleeting the desire for my First Love can be and I must maintain that discipline of spending time with Him daily. Only then will I know that deep down joy that survives and defies all circumstances.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Reconnect


Yesterday was just one of the tough days in life.  Not the “tough” that everything goes wrong and nothing goes right, but just a few things don’t go as expected and you become down.  I know my “up” meter is below average anyway as the one year anniversary of my son, Byron’s, death approaches next week.  So it is during times like this I remember to look for the good in each day expecting the hard times to be present. 

Two days ago Byron’s best friend, Pete, responded to a text of mine.  This was the first time we had heard from Pete in almost a year.  Over the last year I have randomly sent Pete texts and called him and left voice mails just to see how he is doing but with no response.  Since we are coming up on the anniversary date I thought Pete might be struggling as we are, so I sent him a text to tell him we were thinking of him. 

He responded and apologized for “disappearing” and asked for forgiveness.  As I responded to him, if there is one thing I have learned on this journey of grief, that is that no two people grieve the same way and there is no right or wrong way to grieve.  Just as we are as individual as snow flakes are individual, so is our grieving unique.  Therefore there is nothing to forgive.  It was just great hearing from him again after all these months. 


So why should I let a 3 hour wait at 2 different Departments of Motor Vehicle and a defective SIM card for my new phone and no phone service for a week overshadow reconnecting with Byron’s best friend?  I should not.  

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Balm in Gilead



Yesterday I had the opportunity to get together with a treasured dear friend that I had not seen in a year.  And it had been years since we had spent any time together.  We spent five hours catching up with each other, finding out about each others families, children, grandchildren, work, retirement, struggles, cancer, health, vacations, homes, etc.  It was such a precious time to just reconnect with a friend of 35+ years and a sister in Christ.

As I was reflecting on our conversation I likened those five hours to a balm in Gilead for my soul.  Reflecting on our long time friendship, realizing how good God has been to both of us, even with all our struggles and challenges. 

There Is a Balm in Gilead
By: African American spiritual
Sometimes I feel discouraged and think my work’s in vain,
But then the Holy Spirit revives my soul again.
There is a balm in Gilead to make the wounded whole;
There is a balm in Gilead to heal the sin sick soul.

Don’t ever feel discouraged, for Jesus is your friend;
And if you lack for knowledge, He’ll never refuse to lend.
There is a balm in Gilead to make the wounded whole;
There is a balm in Gilead to heal the sin sick soul.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BN9JALQRMb0


  

Monday, July 15, 2013

Morning Kiss




This year my parents will celebrate 66 years of marriage.  A couple weeks ago while I was home visiting, my mom says to my dad around 10 in the morning, “Jim, I haven’t had my morning kiss.”  At the moment that she said this, my dad was getting out of his chair.  At age 96 Dad is a wee bit wobbly on his feet and needs his cane to help his balance which was not by his chair.  I am sitting in the love seat across from this witnessing this entire encounter.  I have my foot elevated healing from a broken ankle.  And I myself usually have to get my balance when standing due to some lack of feeling in my foot from the two surgeries on my ankle. 


So my mom who has always walked the speed of light, even at age 88, jumps out of her chair and heads for her morning kiss from my dad.  I am sitting there thinking, “Oh Lord, please don’t let either one of them fall over because I would not be able to break the fall nor probably be able to help them up if one or both of them fell”.  So my mom who is all of 5’1” lunges for my dad who is 5’10” for her morning kiss and wraps her arms around his neck as both teeter for balance and I pray they don’t fall and can enjoy this morning kiss.  They did not fall and both enjoyed the kiss.


What a fantastic legacy I have been blessed to be born into.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Out of Order


I recently returned from visiting my parents who live in an independent retirement community.  The majority of this age 80+ generation who live in this community eat their meals in the community dining room.  At the time I visited, one of three elevators was down.  They were waiting on parts to be shipped in to fix the elevator.  This facility has 3 elevators, one on either side and one in the middle.  Unfortunately it was the central elevator that had broken down, the one closest to the dining room.

This breakdown forced some residents to take a new way to get to and from the dining room.  For those who walking was a challenge due to physical ailments found this difficult.  For those who had a degree of dementia - this threw them totally off kilter.  They had become accustomed to the visual cues along a certain route to and from the dining room.  Now those cues are all different and they lost their way. 

About the 3rd day I was there the south elevator broke down.  So now there is only one elevator working.  More and more people did not come to meals because the walk was just too far and too difficult for them.  So some missed out on the only socialization they get during each day.  For others they could make the walk but got very confused now on which elevator was working (signs were poorly handwritten and put to the side of the elevator-not on the door of the elevator).  And then more confusion on how to get to and from the dining hall. 

When I left 5 days later both elevators had still not been fixed.  I recently broke my ankle and this trip was my first experience with walking without the aid of a scooter.  I used a crutch for the first few days but worked up the stamina and balance so I could walk without the crutch.  I know how difficult it was for me, and I am 30-40 years younger than most of these residents. 


All this to say lets be mindful and compassionate of others abilities.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Traditions



I had the fun adventure of spending July 4th with my extended family in Roswell, NM.  I was reminded of a family tradition that at first did not seem like a tradition at all.  But the more I thought about it, it has almost become a rite of passage into the Markl family.  My brother, Steve, age 62, has been riding motorcycles since he was 12 years old.  During these 50 years of riding “bikes” he has taught countless family members how to ride or either taken them on rides on his bikes.  The above picture is my brother with his 2 year old grandson on one of his 4 bikes.  Steve taught me how to ride a bike, he taught his own children, his nieces and nephews, and now is teaching his grandchildren and grand nieces and nephews how to ride a motorcycle.  His grandson, Hunter, age 13, will be riding his 1st motorcross bike race this week. 


Why is this tradition like many other traditions so important?  Because it says “you belong” to this family.  Each of us need “to belong” to something greater than ourselves.  Each of us has that desire to be valued for who we are and for what we are.  What greater privilege is there than “belonging”?  “Belonging” is what we cling to with the storms of life toss us all about.  “Belonging” is the anchor we grab for and hold onto desperately when the waves of turmoil are about to consume us.  “Belonging” is what gives us direction and holds us steady when we are bombarded by so many choices.  

What traditions are you creating to let your loved ones know they belong?

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Lesson Turned Discipline




God has given humans the unique capacity to observe their own thoughts.  Resulting in the possibility to monitor our thoughts and make choices about out thoughts.  “Worry is largely a matter of thinking about things at the wrong time” ~ Sarah Young from Jesus Today.  

I often subscribe to the philosophy that where matters of the heart and mind are concerned, timing is everything.  Thirty years ago when I was going through a heart breaking gut wrenching divorce and custody battle I would find my stomach growing into  knots.  I soon learned to stop and consider what I was thinking about at the time when I would feel this physical pain in my stomach.  99.9% of the time I was reflecting on mean words spoken to me or by me, jealous thoughts of the “other woman”, hateful acts, etc. 

I made a conscious effort when I would catch myself thinking about these things, to start singing praises to God.  By this time in my life I had been a Christian for about 10 years.  And since I love to sing, I had learned a lot of praise songs over the years.  And there were a few short stanzas I would sing over and over, many times through tears, many times with voice breaking because of the raw emotion I was feeling at the time.  By doing so each and every time my spirit was lifted out of the miry den of self absorption to a higher plane of God focus.  At first this praise discipline would result in only minutes of higher relief, but with lots and lots of practice it became second nature to praise God in song when feeling hurt and pain. 
 

Eleven months ago my adult son passed away 10 days after receiving a heart transplant.  The new heart did not give out; his weakened body succumbed to a massive infection that  quickly fought all antibiotics.  I was at home in my pjs at 10pm when I got the call from my daughter that Byron was dying.  Nurses and doctors had been performing CPR for over 25 minutes at this point.  After being advised by the doctor that it was time to let Byron go, I hung up.  My husband was 250 miles away; my other daughter and her husband were at the hospital.  I got dressed, headed to the hospital 40 minutes a way. 

During that 40 minute drive I went into default mode after years of discipline training and sang praise songs to God.  I knew this was my only survival.  Who knew that a lesson - turned discipline - 30 years prior would be my survival kit to get me through the darkest night of my life?  God knew.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Anxiety




On most occasions the way I learn a life lesson is that I will read something in the Bible, then I will think about it and in a few days a situation or circumstance will happen to me in life that will “test” me on what I had previously read and thought about.  Such is what happened last night. 

The general theme of what I have been reading in the Bible and in other devotional books in the last few weeks have been “depending on God” and “faith in God”.  The general lesson I am learning is to radically depend on God and not others.  And to depend on God then, I need to have faith that God will be there for me and do what He says He will do. 

Just yesterday in my quiet time I wrote, “The essence of wisdom is to trust in Me (God) more than yourself or other people” ~ Sarah Young from Jesus Today.  Proverbs 28:26 “He who trusts in himself is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom is kept safe.” 

The day before I journaled, “When your circumstances are challenging and you are feeling weak, you tend to obsess about how you are going to make it through the day.  Whenever this happens, ask Me (God) to open your eyes so you can find Me ‘in the moment’.  ‘See’ Me standing nearby, with my strong arm extended to you, offering you My help.” ~ Sarah Young from Jesus Today.  Isaiah 41:10 “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.”

Last night a situation took place where I was experiencing fear.  Fear based upon “what if” this happened or “what if “this other thing happened.  In my own way I tried to control the situation to prevent this fear, but the situation and the decisions made were out of my control.  So what remained was what I was going to do with this fear right at that time.  So after some displayed anger at the person (who was not present at the time) for putting me in a position to experience this fear, I “calmly lashed” out at God and remembering what I had read and thought about the last two days specifically said, “God, help me to see You right now, at this time, in this moment, with Your strong arm extended out to me.  Please squelch this fear I am experiencing right now.” 


Over the next two hours my fear subsided, was not extinguished, but subsided.  I know I will be tested again in a similar situation, probably within the next 48 to 72 hours.  These are the little tests in life I experience on a fairly regular basis.  This is one more little step in learning to radically depend on God, not on myself, not on others.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Dependency



Whether we realize it or not, all of us lean on or depend on something or someone as we face the circumstances of each day.  For some it may be family or friends, for others it may be physical strength, intelligence, beauty, wealth, or achievements.  Or you may find for different situations your default dependency mode changes on what you rely on. 

I asked myself today what is it I normally default to for dependency.  And for me it is my husband, Jim.  When the car breaks down, when the kids need help, when I have a major decision to make, etc. my default mode is to call Jim and get his help or run something by him.  And this is not bad – I think this is what marriage is all about.  However, relying on any one of these things can be risky, because every one of them can let you down. 

Family or friends may advise you wrongly.  And as we all know physical strength and beauty diminish over time.  Wealth and achievements can fade.  Any of these can be gone in a moment’s notice. 

I think the rub of the matter is to balance expectations.  Because if our expectations fail us - disappointment, anger, or depression can settle in for the long haul.  And this is much worse than the situation with the failed expectation.

As a Christian I believe God wants me to look to Him for my reliance, for my dependency.  In the moment, I need to pray to ‘see’ Jesus - to see Him standing right next to me to uphold me. 

I so identify with this quote from Dr. Joseph Stowell, “Self-sufficiency is a terrible place to be, because it is the worst deceit you can bring on yourself.  You need God.  You need God every minute of your life.  I believe God knows that, and he desires fellowship and dependency from you, radical dependency in terms of your relationship with Him.”

Isaiah 41:10  Fear not, for I am with you.  Be not dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you.  I will help you; I will uphold you with My victorious right hand.  

Monday, June 17, 2013

My Dad


I am truly blessed to have my 96 year old Dad still teaching me life’s lessons.

Dad taught me a strong belief in God.  As long as I can remember I was in church every Sunday morning.  Up until just a few months ago when Dad finally gave up driving he attended a men’s prayer meeting every Monday morning at 6am at a local restaurant.  He attended this prayer breakfast for 50+ years.  My children, my marriage, and multiple other facets of my life have been prayed for by these men.  My father is currently the oldest living member of the United Methodist Church in Roswell, NM.  Meaning not only is he the oldest in age but he has been a member there longer than any other living person.

Dad taught me to love and appreciate the country we live in.  My dad served in the Navy during World War II.  He also was active in politics while I was growing up.  Even though as an adult I have decided to support a different political party, I don’t take having the right to vote lightly.  It is a great responsibility that few other countries allow their citizens to have. 

Dad taught me financial responsibility.  To this day Dad has never used credit except for buying a home.  All his cars, appliances, etc. were paid for in cash.  And if the cash was not available we did not have it.  He also have saved and invested his money.  This being the nest egg my parents are living off of now.

Dad taught me the importance of the institution of marriage.  He and my mom have been married 65 years, soon to be 66 years on August 31st. And they have had their challenges during those 65 years of marriage but have remained loyal and faithful to each other.

Dad taught me a strong work ethic.  Dad owned his own real estate business and gave up many weekends while I was young to be working at open houses to provide for our family.  I never truly appreciated how hard he worked until I became a single parent and was the sole provider for my children.

Dad taught me the importance of education.  Dad taught at the local college for years. Both my parents have college degrees and always encouraged me scholastically.  I know that is one reason why as a grown adult I returned to college and acquired three degrees.

Dad taught me the importance of words.  Throughout my life I can remember my father saying, “If you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say it at all”.  My dad has lived by those words and today is known for his positive attitude toward life and his kindness to others. 

These are just a few of the many things my Dad has taught me over the years.  And I am still being taught today.  I have not always learned these lessons in a timely fashion and have struggled in my life because of my lack of learning.  But my Dad has always taught them to me by his example. 


I love you Dad.   

Friday, June 14, 2013

Healing


Scars are a sign of healing.  I was thinking about this today as I looked at the scars from my ankle surgery.  In a few days I will have another surgery with a new incision going right on top of the current scar.  As much as we may not like the scar, it does mean healing has taken place.  And for that we need to be grateful.  Even if the scar can bring ridicule from others.

My son had his first open heart surgery when he was 2 years old.  He had over 120 stitches in his little chest.  As he got older and started swimming lessons I remember him being very reluctant to take off his shirt.  He finally told me he knew other kids would make fun of his scar on his chest.  I think that was the first time I told Byron that his scar was a sign of healing and how brave he was to go through all he had to, to get that scar.

Over the years of Byron growing up we had this conversation several times.  When he became interested in girls as a teenager, he just knew once a girl saw his scar she would cower away from him.  I told him then that the "right" girl for him would not be bothered by this scar.  That she would see him for all the good character he possessed and not care what the scar looked like.  He could use the girl's reaction to gauge his future with her.

How do you view your scars?

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Destination




It’s very trendy today to say this life we are living is a “journey” because a “journey” implies ongoing travel.  And if you look at your life as a “journey”, have you given much consideration to your destination point? Where will your journey end?  When and how will your journey end?  Who will be with you when your journey ends?

I love the analogy of my life being a journey, but I find I am so wrapped up in the day to day travel I really had not thought much about my destination point.  This is totally contradictory to how I plan for a trip! 

Right now I am considering a trip to visit my family in July.  One of my first considerations is the weather – very hot, over 100 degrees daily.  What clothes will I pack?  Who will I see?  What activities will we do?  What will we talk about?  So my destination is my first and foremost consideration.

Only after I have thought and planned these details do I consider my actual travel to the destination.  Do I have enough money for gas?  Do I need to have the oil changed in the car before going?  Is the air conditioning working good- very good in this heat?  Will I stop for lunch or just do drive-thru in some town on the way?  Is my spare tire aired up?  

Then why on my life journey do I not consider daily my destination point?  I am a Christian and I know my destination is Heaven.  But how often do I think about Heaven?  Definitely not daily!  Jesus says we are to come to Him as a child comes to Him.  I can just see a child asking questions like, “What’s the weather like in Heaven? Will we wear clothes in Heaven?  Will I see my grandma and grandpa in Heaven?  Can we play in Heaven?” 


These are the questions I need to ponder daily since I am on a journey to Heaven.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Stop and smell the roses



As I transition into my new season of life – retirement –I am discovering many different aspects on this new journey.  I am not as busy as I was; getting ready for work, going to work, working, then coming home from work, getting dinner on the table, and then going brain dead in front of the tube or catching up on housework in the evening, just to get up the next morning and do it all over again. 

I am discovering I actually have time to think and to feel.  To think through ideas, ponder thoughts, remember memories.  I have time to truly sense what took place, what I heard, what I saw, what I touched, what I smelled, what I tasted, what I felt.  Maybe when our lives are not so focused on what must be accomplished, how many widgets must be produced, how many sales calls we must make, etc. then the senses that have been suppressed by the “doing” actually are reborn to start experiencing life. 

Whoever quoted, “Take time to stop and smell the roses” understood the importance of experiencing life rather than living life.  They grasped that relationships become more important than accomplishments. 

For years in the “working” arena of my life I was a human resource director.  And what I found to be true over and over again is that people became disgruntled with their work, not because of not meeting goals or lack of accomplishment, they became disgruntled with bad working relationships.  This attitude usually resulted in a termination, whether they quit or were fired.  The bad working relationships led to bad attitudes which resulted in undesirable behaviors in the work force. 


Today I will smell the roses…

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Bagger Boy


You just never know when one day you meet a person who is in utter despair with life and a kind word or a kind gesture may be all they need to give them hope and courage to face one more day.

This happened to me many years ago.  When I was a single mom and very broke, I had to take my son to the doctor for an infected ingrown toenail. Seems so minor, yet I had no idea why his big toe was so inflamed and he was in such pain.  I was concerned about my son's well being but I was also worried about taking money from the grocery budget to pay for the copay and the antibiotics.

After the doctor visit we walked next door to the grocery store to get milk and the antibiotics.  It was around six in the evening, the kids were tired, hungry and whiny.  I was distraught with life, worried about finances, embarrassed to pay for the milk with food stamps.

And some 30 years later I remember the kindness of the young man bagging our groceries that night.  I don't remember what he did or what he said, but I do remember how he made me feel.  His kindness gave me hope and courage and continue on.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Heaven


Last night I received word that one of the women in my GriefShare group last fall committed suicide.  My family attended this 13 week recovery class for people who had lost a loved one through death.  On July 23, 2012, my 34 year old son passed away, ten days after receiving a heart transplant.

This friend lost her husband when a car struck his motorcycle while he was on his way home from work.  Thay had been married for years, had grown children and he was close to retirement.


I think most people who have lost a loved one at one time or another have entertained the idea of suicide just to get rid of the excruciating hurt and pain you go through day after day.  I think some get beat up and worn down from the ongoing daily "new normal" that has been thrust upon us, that we never wanted.


That is why the blog I did a couple days ago about "Hope Springs Forth" was so meaningful to me.  Over the last year the lives of my family have had little hope, so you learn to recognize it and appreciate it when you feel it.


How are you surviving the loss of a loved one?

Friday, June 7, 2013

Chicken in the morning


Today I woke up to the sound of a chicken clucking.  Is that what chickens do – cluck?  Now mind you I live in suburbia, not the country.  And this was the first time I have heard a chicken.  Dogs – yes, cat fights – yes, birds – tons of them, fire engine sirens – yes; but no chickens.  It actually put a happy smile on my face.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Hope Springs Forth


Have you ever just been living life when all of sudden out of nowhere you feel hope?  Well, that happened to me this morning.  The hope was not the result of a thought; was not tied to any circumstance or situation - it was just a fleeting feeling that something good will happen.  If I had to paint a picture of my "hope", it would be the picture above.

Immediately I thought of the saying "Hope springs forth".  And spring it did!  This feeling darted into my existence and then was gone.  But even though it was fleeting it left a wake of goodness just like a boat leaving a wake of ripples in the water as it passes.

And when you think about it, the hope had to originate from some source within me since I could not associate it with any outward circumstance, relationship or thought.  The knowledge that this source of hope dwells within me leads to faith that there is more hope to come.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

What was my divorce date...?


Why is it I can remember my 1st marriage anniversary with no problem but can not remember my divorce anniversary?  In two days I have to answer interview questions to apply for my retirement and one of the questions is the date of my divorce.  For the life of me I can not remember the day, the date, the month or even the year.  Now I have to go dig out that divorce decree.  Have to remember where I filed that little hummer…?  Granted it was some 30 years ago but I have no problem remembering my wedding anniversary which was 42 years ago.  Maybe it is my way of remembering the good and forgetting the bad…..

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Bloom Where You Are Planted



"Bloom Where You Are Planted" has been my life motto since I can remember.  Not even sure when I started using this motto, but it has served me well.  In truly encapsulates my life's journey.  So far very few of the dreams and plans I envisioned as a young person have materialized, which can be a good thing and a bad thing.  It's all how you look at it.  Would I do it differently?  Yes, but only to the point of not hurting others.  Sometimes to survive you have to bloom where you are planted.  Other times you have to pick yourself up from the dirt and move into the sunlight to bloom.  Sometimes you have a choice and sometimes you don't.