Friday, December 13, 2013

I said yes!

Well.  So, stuff has been happening. Good stuff.  Like, I went to visit Brian and his family in Massachusetts (which I have finally learned how to spell w/o spellcheck - yay me!) and the first night that I was there, he took me upstairs to his bedroom, told me to close my eyes and hold out my hands, and when I opened my eyes I was holding a large rock that had "Will you marry me?" engraved in it. Brian was standing in front of me, smiling, holding 2 smaller rocks, one in each hand. One said yes, the other said no.

I picked the "Yes" one.


I know that I haven't been writing much, especially since I met Brian. I think there are a couple of reasons for that. One reason is that I wanted to protect this relationship.  I don't know whether I needed to or not, and Brian would say that it is his place to protect me, not the other way around. Still, I am protective.  I have seen the damage that can be done when a relationship comes under attack, and while I don't want to dwell there, I felt like I needed to be guarded. I share my entire life, quite freely, with my closest and most trusted people.  I have learned to be careful who I trust.  Jesus once said, “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces." Matthew 7:6  This is not about being snarky or bitter. I am at peace, and examine my heart often to root out any seeds of bitterness that might be there. It is about wisdom. About treasuring this incredible person that God has led into my life, and not allowing the darkness in.

The other reason I haven't been writing much lately is because I want to live these days, without the distraction of  recording them.  It's the same reason why I don't have a lot of pictures of my visits with Brian. Or of Christmas mornings. Or of Grace's school pageants. I want to be fully present for what is going on.  I want to experience my time with Brian or Grace's special moments, or even a sunset, through all of my senses. Not through the lenses of a camera. Or the microscope of a blog entry.   So I've been soaking in every moment of getting to know this amazing man, and his remarkable family.  I feel so loved and welcome, and I love and treasure these people. I only get one chance to live these things. I can always write about them later.

Brian is a remarkable man, in so many ways.  He has given me permission to write about him freely, and I am so grateful for his trust and faith in me. He is a godly man, who wants to know and follow God above all, who is humble and kind and funny and romantic and strong. He loves to take care of me, and he does it in a way that empowers me to do more than I ever thought I could.  When I am with him, I feel loved and safe, and happy. I pray that God will give me many, many years of making Brian Misner happy, in every way that I can.  

For the rest of my 2 and 1/2 week visit, at coffee shops and church and in stores and at family gatherings, Brian kept going up to people and announcing, "She said yes!"  Then he would wrap me up in his arms, and in the safety and warmth and love of his embrace, I would say it again. And again. And again.


Thursday, October 17, 2013

Repost - Memory and Mourning

This is a repost from July 2, 2012, entitled "Memory & Mourning".  I believe that I am now living in the fruitful days that have come from the work that was being done in my heart, soul and mind when I wrote this. I miss my mom very much, and while the world doesn't feel quite right without her in it, I am so grateful to have had her as my mum, and to have had the opportunity to know her love for me.  Mum would have liked Brian. She would have been so proud of Grace.  She would have been happy for me.  Not gushy happy. Mum wasn't big on gushy happy.  That's one of the most valuable things that Mum taught me. I have learned that people give love in different ways.  For whatever reason, sometimes a person's love for us can come to us in a manner that may not be as familiar to us as we'd like.  It may not be the way I'd do it.  That doesn't mean it's not love.

Two years. Wow.

I love you, Mum.

Memory and Mourning

Lately I have been finding myself often in a place of memory and mourning.  I have been in mourning for my mother for eight months, but as my heart is adjusting to the reality of her death, my mind is wandering towards other losses, ones that I am beginning to think were never properly mourned.  I have always understood and paid attention to the big losses, like death or the loss of my marriage.  I knew that these things needed to be mourned.  I have spent much of my adult life working through childhood experiences and have mourned losses that lived there as well.

These losses seem smaller, less life changing.  And yet, when I think of them, I find myself weeping.

A promise, made when I was 19, to a dear old man, that I was never able to keep.

A sudden realization, a sharp recognition of a "could-have-been" that left me doubled over in pain and regret.  I generally try to ignore "could-have-beens", but this one held a loss so great, it insisted on being mourned.

The soft look of love, lost, not because of death of the person, but because of death of love within the person. 

Beside these losses, the loss of my mother feels so...clean.  So normal.  I look at her picture and know that I will never, on this earth, see her face or hear her voice again. She was here and now she's not and the entire loss is wrapped in love and affection and holding her hand and telling her that it was okay to want to let go and her asking me, repeatedly, if I needed money, if I was okay, if I had what I needed. 

These other losses leave me stunned.  Broken. And then, I am left with a choice.  I can choose to see them, address them, mourn them, and let them go.  Or I can push them back into whatever heart-crevice they were hiding in and ignore them. Again.

So, I choose to mourn them.  It helps that I am kind of in mourning mode, anyway. Why stop now?  Who knows what God has planned for the space in my life that these things have occupied? 

One thing I am grateful for.  I am so glad that God has been teaching me about letting go.   It feels good to release these things into His hands.  I cannot change the past.  I cannot recoup my losses or make it all better. 

There is an awesome passage in the book of Joel - Joel 2:24 - 26

 “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten —
the great locust and the young locust,
the other locusts and the locust swarm—
my great army that I sent among you.
You will have plenty to eat, until you are full,
and you will praise the name of the Lord your God,
who has worked wonders for you;
never again will my people be shamed. "

I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten...I love that. 

Peace out.          
July 2, 2012

Monday, October 7, 2013

My Mother, My Self, Repost

I wrote this on my birthday two years ago, just before Mum died. Last year I reposted it. I'm reposting it again this year. Maybe there will come a year when I won't want to repost it, and that will be okay. But for now, this post is a part of this day.  Blessings.

My Mother, My Self  (October 7, 2011)

Years ago someone gave me a book called, My Mother, Myself. As the title suggests, the book focused on the relationship between mothers and daughters, and how our mothers influence the women we grow up to be. I started reading it, but I don't think I finished it. Thanks to a faith in God, I had already gotten to the point in my life when I was uncomfortable assigning blame for my weaknesses and oddities on my Mom. I knew that both my parents were human beings, and as such, prone to frailties that had helped make me the person I was, weirdnesses and all. I had come to understand that no matter what ball my parents had tossed to me in the parental game of life, I was the one who had chosen to take the ball and run with it, and therefore I was ultimately responsible for the things I carried with me from childhood. 

I've been thinking about the title of that book today, though, because today is my 45th birthday. I have been feeling melancholy all day, and on the way home from the grocery store this afternoon, I realized why. Today is not just the anniversary of the day I was born. It is also the anniversary of the day my mom gave birth to me. This realization was poignant for me. My mom is in the Ottawa Cancer Research Centre, after having received a diagnosis of stage-4 lung cancer, which has spread throughout her body. The body that carried me for nine months, that sheltered and protected me and then worked so hard to introduce me to the world, is suffering, breaking down, expiring. The woman that nurtured and cared for me is now being nurtured and cared for as she faces what is most likely the end of her life. 

Most of my birthdays are about becoming a year older, eating cake, good wishes on Facebook, being with friends and family. This year it is about preparing to say good-bye to the woman who made sure I would see this day.

As a mother, on my daughter's birthday, I always go back in time to the day that she was born. I remember that day with joy. Grace's birth day is a celebration for me as well as for her. She celebrates being born, and I celebrate giving birth to her. Yet I have never seen my birthday as a day that might include thoughts of my mother. This is new to me. This is also wonderful. And sad.

Forty-five years ago today, I opened my eyes and looked into my mother's eyes for the first time. In the near future, it is entirely possible that I will look into my mother's eyes for the last time on this earth. The years in between have been full of many things; hard things, sweet things, the things that make life, life. They have been full of love, which I was only able to fully appreciate when I stopped demanding that my mother's love be presented to me in a manner of my approval, and started accepting her as a woman who loved me the way she loved me and I could receive it or reject it but I had no right to judge that it was not there, that it was not real.

On our birthdays, we say thank you a lot. For gifts, for good wishes, for another year. Today I am grateful for the woman who shared this day with me, 45 years ago. I thank God for her, and ask Him to make me a blessing to her. I pray that the God who loves her with a passion that she cannot even imagine will draw her to Him, and carry her through these days. Of course I pray that these would not be her last days, but should they be, I pray that they will not be an end, but be a beginning - of eternity, of life, of hope, of dancing and singing and joy and laughter and boundless love. 

Today is a day that she and I share. Happy Birth Day, Mum. I love you.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Still Sniveling - or How did we go through six boxes of facial tissues in one week??!!

Tired of hearing about my cold yet? HA! Too bad! Because I still have it, and am, if the general feeling of my body can be trusted, not even near the end of it. So there you go.

Besides the only people who are really, justifiably tired of it should be my Facebook folks - because I whined about it all week-end on Facebook - and my family. That'd be Grace. And I've been listening to her snorting and hawking things up for over a week now, so she doesn't have a vote.  And Brian, who, by virtue of being my long-distance hunny, is not allowed to get tired of me in any way. It's a rule. I looked it up.

So, here we are again.  The cats are beginning to adjust, now that their food dishes are adequately topped up. Jean-Luc, who used to reel in horror at the slightest scent of Vicks, has now taken it upon himself to be the cleaner-of-my hands after each  application.  It's a sacrifice, no doubt. But he's pretty sure I must be as disgusted by the stuff as he is, and he takes pity on me.  Plus, he wants me to pet him, and I'm not touching him with those filthy hands, thank you very much.  Schmitty just sleeps where ever we are. Which is usually in my bed.  Grace has taken to hanging out in here with me, me on the laptop, while she flips things around on her tablet.  Sometimes I email her, just because I can.

 "Hi Chika, pass the kleenex?" "Hi Chik, wanna make me some tea?"  "Hey Grace, up for a few episodes of Bewitched?"

She looks at me with the patronizing patience of a young adult to a old parent and says, "Mom, I'm right beside you."

Cracks me up every time.

To be honest, I am getting tired of this.  I feel achy and fatigued and my head hurts.  The reason I have so much fun with the cold thing, though, is because it is so normal.  Everybody can relate. Even now, people all across our valley are sniffling and sneezing along with me, sharing the same experiences, the same frustrations, the same sense of gratitude to the local IGA for putting 6-packs of facial tissues on sale a few weeks ago.  By the way, we seemed to have worked our way through all 6 boxes. I've been reduced to carrying a roll of toilet paper around with me, although if I had the energy to look, I'm fairly sure 3 or 4 of them could most likely be found in Grace's room.  But who's up to going in THERE? Not me!

I digress. Yes, having a cold is normal. And it gets better. Having had the unsettling experience of being told years ago that a horrid illness that would vanquish my innards is chronic and not fixable, I get a little thrill of joy whenever I get something that will actually go away.  Like I've accomplished something. Won a victory. Defeated an enemy.

I'm not doing the happy victory dance yet, though.  Things are starting to really hurt now. It hurts to cough, which I can't stop doing. Sneezing hurts. Rolling my eyes around in my head hurts.  And self-pity has poked her head in the door and asked if I'm ready for her yet.  I yawned and told her, not yet. Maybe after nap time.  Or maybe at supper time when we tuck into the third box of Kraft Dinner this week-end - they were on sale at the IGA on Friday and I stocked's like they KNEW the entire town was going to be bed-ridden this week!

In any case, one day I will look back at these posts with fond nostalgia. Remember that time I got sick and then GOT BETTER?!  *happy sigh* Good times, those....

Just a thought.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

I god a code...*sniffle*

I have a cold.  It's just a cold, sore throat, headache, coughing...or, as I like to put it, it feels like I swallowed sandpaper, someone is pounding a spike through my head and I'm fairly sure I am about to hawk up a lung.

You know, just a cold.

I'm no stranger to not feeling well.  I think I manage to stay up beat and positive when my IC (interstitial cystitis) flares and the pain hits. I have to. It's a chronic condition, and if it's going to keep happening, I can't allow myself to be a chronic misery. My friends and family deserve better. I deserve better, or if I don't, at least I have the option of choosing a better attitude, and I know it makes my healing come more quickly and my sanity stick around. So that's good.

But a cold...a cold is fair game.  I am sitting in bed, reeking of Vicks vapo-rub, with a scarf around my throat, sniffling and coughing and moaning periodically, just in case anyone who cares is within ear shot.  Brian has given me strict instructions to stay in bed. Sweet, dear man.  He wants to take care of me, which isn't easy due to the fact that  he is 5 hours away, so his optional plan is to make me take care of myself.  Last night when we Skyped, he took one look at my bleary eyed, sniveling face and winced.

"Whoa. You don't feel good, do you?"

Then he looked helpless.  Worried.  Asked if there was anything that he could do for me. Ordered me to bed, with all the ferocity of a concerned teddy bear.

 I am adorable, hear me roar.

The thing is, I have to go out today. Just for a few minutes. To drop something off at the church. To get a few things at the grocery store. You know, important stuff.

So, if anyone sees me at the IGA in Huntingdon buying cat food...

 *looks both ways, leans in and whispers* will be our little secret. Okay?

I mean seriously, in my weakened state *groan* if the cats run out of food, they're going to start gnawing on my limbs in no time. They won't even need to wait for me to pass out.  I woke up in the middle of the night a few nights ago with Schmitty chewing on my thumb! This is a THING, people!  And yes, the Vicks is a deterrent, sending them spiralling off of the bed in confused, blinky-eyed, sneezing, muttering disdain, but it's going to wear off sometime.

And when it does....oh, the humanity!

At the very least, Jean-Luc has already been in the room several times to warn me, with the anxiety rolling off of him in waves, that the food dishes are only half full. HALF-FULL. That's how bad things have gotten.  He wants to know if I am dying. Because how else would I have allowed his world to fall into such a state of utter disrepair?

*cough, choke, wheeze*

Don't worry about me, though.  I've been through worse.

Ah...ah...achoooooo!  Hey, Grace...does this look infected to you?

Just a thought.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Derek - "Kindness is magic"

Grace and I have a new favorite television show. It's a British production called Derek, written, directed by and starring Ricky Gervais.  I'm not usually a fan of Gervais', I find his humor a little harsh.  This show, on the other hand, is brilliant. The entire first series is on Netflix, and I watched all 7 episodes in one week-end. The last episode left me in tears.  Not just a little weepy, either. I'm talking big, gulping, falling over onto the sofa hugging a cat sobbing. Brilliant.

Ricky Gervais stars as Derek Noakes, a care worker in a small senior's home.  The show features a cast of  "quirky characters", working and struggling together to take care of the residents of the home, as well as each other.  The underlying theme is this, that "kindness is magic". And it's presented in a powerful way. Filmed in a mockumentary style, the characters interact with the camera and each other in ways that run the gamut from downright disturbing to heart-breakingly real and crazily hilarious. Sometimes, the most "real" moments are the most disturbing, and the heart of the show is this - through the life and words and actions of Derek, kindness is shown as something that costs something, that can leave scars on the heart of the giver and that shines most brightly when it is least deserved.  

Derek is the kind of show that everyone should see.  After finishing the first episode, I wanted to recommend it to everyone I know. Unfortunately, there is a problem. There is quite a bit of swearing, as well as offensive jokes about body functions and parts, etc. That's not the big problem, though. The power of Derek's message is that he loves everyone. Everyone. And that includes people like Kev.  Kev is a homeless, jobless man who hangs around the home, sleeps on the floor of Derek and Dougie's flat, is the third member of what Derek affectionately calls his gang, and just generally behaves in disturbing, disgusting ways.  There are lots and lots of really gross sex jokes. Lots of references to his lack of hygiene, and just general over-all ickiness.  Kev is a very difficult character to tolerate, let alone like.  The thing is, Derek loves him. Derek's kindness towards Kev is not blind. For the most part, he sees and hears and smells what everyone else does in Kev.  Still, Derek loves him.

That is one of the reasons that I love this show. In the beginning, scenes that had Kev in them literally made me shrink a little back into the sofa. Gervais has done a great job of writing a character that is truly unlikable.  There is nothing of television's classic lovable jerk in Kev. He is not lovable in any way.  Other characters, like Dougie (played by "An Idiot Abroad's" Karl Pinkington), can be a bit caustic but they always have inevitable moments of redemption and latent strength of character. Not Kev. Still as difficult as Kev is to accept, he is real. And being real means that there are moments of vulnerability hidden in the bravado and posturing.  Kev's disgusting behaviour is rooted in weakness and fear, and this becomes obvious as the show progresses. 

The thing is, to fully appreciate the power of Derek's willingness to treat everyone kindly, one has to stick with the show. Keep watching.  At first, I thought, we have to be able to look past Kev's character in order to enjoy the show. But now, I don't think looking "past" Kev is such a great idea.  I think we need to look at Kev, to get to know him even as we get to know the other characters.  Hannah, the manager of the home, has a heart of gold. Dougie, while a serious pessimist with a tendency to grumble incessantly, is fiercely protective of his friends and the residents and stands up for them in the face of manipulation and greed.  Derek is...well, Derek.  And Kev is Kev.

There is a scene in the last episode of the first series, where in true mockumentary fashion and in light of the death of one of the residents, the characters are being asked some fairly deep questions.  Kev's answer to the question of whether or not he has any regrets about his life made me weep. I want to cry now, just thinking about it.  

Derek is just a television show. Kev is a fictional character. He doesn't need us to pay attention to him, to really see him, to accept that he is what he is and to care for him unconditionally. He's not real. I think, though, that we need to do these things.  Gervais has created a show that challenges us to move past our own comfort levels and stay invested in the story, in the characters, even when doing so makes us squirm in our seats.  Not for their sakes, but for ours.  Everyone likes to think of themselves as kind people.  Yet we walk past characters like Kev on a regular basis, and we reason that there are some people who are just too far gone to even care if we are kind to them. Derek doesn't think so. Derek doesn't think about it at all.  Derek is kind because that's who he is. And if we stick with him on the journey, if we give this show and this character a chance, we just may find ourselves, after 7 episodes, listening and really hearing the heart of someone who, it turns out, isn't too far gone at all.  

Keep the tissues handy. Just in case.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Summer...gone before I've even said hello...

Can it be September already?  Can the nights really be cooling, the leaves beginning to colour, the buses scooping up groggy children in the morning and plopping them out onto their driveways in the afternoon?  Is it really time for sweaters and scarfs, hot comfort stews and homemade baked goodies, fresh apples and tomatoes and basil from the garden?  Is it time to curl up on the couch with a blanket, a book, tea and scented candles as the sun sets earlier and the cats curl up close for warmth? Has summer really passed on?

This summer, I spent a week at Burke camp, a non-denominational family church camp in Burke, N.Y.  I spent special time with family and friends and God, house-sat with Grace at a goat farm where Grace fell in love with goats and I fell in love with the Jacuzzi.  I enjoyed some freedom from my usual IC pain, as I flared significantly less that usual, and had almost no angina, even in the hottest, most humid days. On the other hand, I had a painful heel spur on my right foot that started in July and lasted until now, when it is finally starting to get better. So I limped, and ached and fussed a bit, and was reminded once more how possible it is to feel old in body while being irrepressibly young in spirit.

I sat on a barn floor covered with goat manure, cradling the head of a dying goat in my lap, keeping the flies off of her face so she could sleep, because it was all I could do, and I had to do something.  I watched my daughter face her deepest fears, behave in unimaginably brave ways and, holding onto God's hand tightly, begin her journey into freedom from crippling anxiety. And I ached with pride. I enjoyed the company of my sisters and their families, ate wonderful food, drank lovely drinks and fell in love with homemade grappa and maple syrup, because maple syrup makes everything lovely.

I read books, went to the Almanzo Wilder Farm in N.Y state and met Dean Butler, who played Almanzo in the Little House on the Prairie television series.  I shook the world of my kitties, Jean-Luc and Schmitty, by going away and I settled their unsteady feelings by coming home, and offering treats and love and catnip and new toy mice.  And lots of snuggles.

I laughed a lot, and cried a bit. I sang and danced and prayed and worshiped, and bowed and frowned and complained and apologized and picked wildflowers and cuddled babies and conversed with toddlers and got to know new friends and old friends in new ways.

And I fell in love.  Wildly, wonderfully in love.  I thanked God for email and Skype, for phone calls and letters in the mail. The real mail.  I realized that I needed someone who was willing to love me when I am not at my best, when I am weak and frail and miserable and struggling, even when I am bad.  I realized that I have always needed that. And I have always had that, in God.  I relaxed in God's unconditional love, and then saw that love reaching out to me through a wonderful man who took my breath away, along with my fears and my loneliness and my sadness.

I went to visit him last week-end, for a long week-end. I met his family and friends including the lovely girl at the coffee shop whose eyes lit up when she saw me beside him at the drive-thru window because she had heard all about me. She bounced up on her toes and waved cheerfully and chirped, "It's so good to finally MEET you!"  I felt welcomed and warm and happy.  And when it was time to go home, I thought I'd be sad, I thought it would be so hard, but while it wasn't exactly pleasant, I knew that it was just the beginning, and our relationship had been built on talking and sharing through emails, texts and Skyping, and that was what we were going back to.  God is in charge of the timing and the plan and the path. We just get to enjoy knowing each other more and more each day.  And so it is all lovely.

I haven't written a lot, mostly because I wanted to live these days without distraction. It is kind of like wanting to sit back to enjoy my child in a school play without having the distraction of taking pictures of her on-stage.  I can write about it later...I guess...if it wants to be written about.

I am just really, really grateful to have had the chance to live it.  I am a blessed woman.

Just a thought.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Meeting Brian

Yesterday I drove to Malone and sat parked in the wrong place for almost an hour (thanks a lot Google maps....yeah, let's blame them) and then drove back down the street, found the right place, pulled into a parking spot next to a huge black truck filled with three teen-agers and one beautiful man.  I jumped out of the car and he stepped out of the truck, and my profuse apologies were smothered by the biggest hug I have ever had in my life.

And I was home.

Odd, to find home in an embrace that I had never been in before.  Odd, to feel several months of soul sharing and laughing and crying and emails and phone calls and skype chats and pictures and prayer and longing and singing and talking and talking and talking, all compress into one warm, safe, lovely hug.

I felt myself relax. It reminded me of  yoga class in the beginning, when we would end our classes with a relaxation time. I would lie on my mat, totally secure in my relaxedness. And then the instructor would begin to talk us through our bodies.  And bit by bit, I became aware of how tense I was.  I would literally feel my body sink into the floor, by inches, when I had previously thought that I was actually already on the floor. Shoulders, relaxed...who knew they were all tensed up around my ears? Breathing, large, deep breaths. Relaxed. Not the short, nervous sucking of air that I so often do, suddenly, startling even myself. Breathe, woman, breathe!

I felt myself relax into the embrace of this wonderful bear of a man, a man that personifies the protective, nurturing, loving power of God.  I remember well the gentle whisper of God, when faced with the knowledge that sometimes He frightened me. "I fight for you, child, not against you." My bear is like that.  Wrapped up in his strength, his power, I am secure, confident, even bold, because his power is for me, not against me.  I am free to relax.

So we had lunch. And the offspring were delightful. And funny. And smart.

And I met Brian.

And I was home.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Feeling safe...

The other day I was on Skype talking to Brian about some painful incidents from the past, and as I described what had happened, without even being aware of it, I started to become upset.  I didn't realize it until Brian, with a look of concern, gently interrupted me and said, "Kelly, it's okay. I'm not arguing with you. You are safe now."

I had worked myself into a self-protective, defensive, wounded state. When Brian reached through the distance and touched me with his gentleness, I stopped and just blinked at him. I wanted to cry. I was surprised at how upset I was. And I realized that I was safe.

Usually when I talk about difficult things from the past, I can do it with a fair amount of detachment.  While healing and forgiveness are on-going, I have welcomed the process and have been walking towards healing for quite a while.  One of the reasons forgiveness is often a process and not a one time thing is because the memory of hurts from the past can continue to hurt.  Every time I feel the hurt, I have to choose to forgive again. The number of people that I feel that I can safely talk to about these things is small and I cherish every one of them.

I know now that the reason I had such a strong emotional reaction when talking to Brian about my past is because I do trust him.  I felt safe.  That is a wonderful feeling.  The past two years have been a journey towards this time in my life, when I can feel a sense of security and safety, probably for the first time that I can remember.  I have been growing in my trust of God's care for me, and have been learning to relax in His love and provision.  All along, God has used people to help me see and feel His care. Dear people who listened to me, prayed for and with me, helped me in practical ways and beyond anything I could have imagined, people who guarded me and loved me, encouraged and supported me and reached out in love to my daughter as well.

Ultimately, though, when adrenaline ran through my veins, when the past flowed from my lips in words of memory that triggered anxiety and hurt, when the kind green eyes and gentle, loving words invited me to rest and be safe, the moment came when I had to make a choice to trust. To receive the love that made me safe. To be safe.

I am safe.  I still don't think I grasp it fully. Safe. Wow.  I know this doesn't mean that nothing bad will ever happen. I also know that I have found a place to rest my heart, a place that has been prepared for me by God, a place that I love being, that makes me laugh and sing and feel loved and beautiful and silly and if not whole, then certainly close to it. And on my way.

And I know that more than anything else, I want to be a safe place for Brian, too.  I don't receive this gift lightly, and I pray that I never take it for granted.  I am feeling very grateful tonight. Grateful, and safe.  Nice.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Becoming Real

You know, I used to think that it was sad, being in my mid-forties and only just beginning to find out who I really am. Now, I wonder if it can happen any earlier than that.  They say being yourself gets easier as we get older, because we don't care what other people think. I'm not sure that I don't care what other people think. I am just learning to give other people permission to think what ever they want and still be okay. It's the same thing I want people to do for me. Odd, how learning to accept that some people will not like me or approve or my choices has led to my feeling free to make choices that honor my God and myself and my child, regardless of what people think.  I used to believe that the problem was them.  Yet, here I was, fussing and fuming over their choice to not like me, disapproving of their disapproval of me. Would I like people to like me? Well, yes! But I accept that not everyone will. And that's okay. And not a snarky, dismissive okay, either. It really is okay.

 This is totally a God thing for me.  Because "Kelly-without-God" would be hiding under her bed right now, clutching a bottle of gin in one hand and Xanax in the other.  And probably a cat.  Okay, most definitely a cat. Or two.

I am just beginning to really be comfortable with the me that I am discovering.  Thanks to spiritual mentors like Brennan Manning (author of The Ragamuffin Gospel), I am being awash in the truth that, like everyone else, I am utterly, absolutely, passionately, sacrificially, totally and wonderfully loved by God.  God loves me as I am, not as I should be. I believe this, Lord, help me believe it more.  God has created us to be relational creatures, designed specifically for relationship with Him, and with each other. Often, we discover important aspects of ourselves by seeing ourselves through the eyes of another.  I am experiencing this, as I see myself through Brian's eyes.  I am often stunned into silence by the Kelly that he tells me that he sees. Is she even real? Is she my potential? Is it just Skype static?
From Shannyl Munson, Myspace

My Mum told me once that I over-analyse everything. She was, of course, right. So I am trying not to over-analyze this. I am learning to just be.  And if I make mistakes, then I am "she who makes mistakes". If I get confused about who I am for a while, then that is who I am.  If love pours out of me like milk in a child's cup, or whiskey in a shot glass, or water to a parched soul, then that is who I am. God, through those who love me, is inviting me to relax fully into who He has created me to be, in this place, at this time.  I can receive God's love with grace and gratitude when it comes to my spirit from Him. Now, I am learning to receive it when it comes from the hands and heart of my love.  Sometimes I receive it tentatively.  Sometimes, with joyful abandon.

Always, I choose to receive it though, even if it hurts. And the truth is that sometimes, allowing myself to be unconditionally, deeply and truly loved by another, hurts. It hurts because it stirs memories of wounds newly healed. It hurts because it shines a light on my own places of self-centredness, and the awful possibility (probability?) of one day hurting the precious heart that is loving me so freely. It hurts because it is too lovely, too rich, too free, too miraculous for this world. It is rooted in another realm, where a God will die to draw His children to Him, where Love is the fuel that lights the sun and moon, where Hope is eternal, where riches are paving stones and the most precious things are the Lord of the city and the people that He loves.

All I keep thinking is how grateful I am. I read this quote recently, and it reminding me of the wonder of this lovely story from Grace's childhood, The Velveteen Rabbit. How unfathomably wonderful and painful and mysterious  it is, to be in the process of becoming real...

"It doesn't happen all at once,' said the Skin Horse. 'You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand.” ― The Velveteen Rabbit

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

"It's a dangerous business...going out your front door..."

Oh, dear readers, I am torn. It has been several weeks since I have written here, but Just A Thought is rarely far from my mind.  I have so much that I wish I could share, so many good and special things are happening.

It is a nice dream, that we can move blissfully into the future, while leaving the past securely in the realm of vague and healing memory. Unfortunately, it is not always realistic.  The truth that I have learned from past experience is that not everyone rejoices with those who rejoice. And some don't stop at mere frowning and fussing. Some take action, destructive action, and there are times when the slander and lies and gossip and rejection and scheming go so far as to taint the good, and wound it deeply and even irreparably.  I have seen this, and have grown stronger in my faith and the power of God and will not allow it to happen again.

There are also the horrid rumors and suspicions - oh, who am I kidding, those involved take arrogance and pride to such a dizzying height that they are so bold as to not be merely suspicious, but to claim divine knowledge from their god - that I am a malignant narcissist (or a psychopath, in laymen's terms).  I was recently told that they will do anything that their god tells them to do in  order to "save me".  I am assuming that the number of these people is small, including the one who has been an abuser and bully in my past.  Apparently, their god is okay with physical and verbal violence - even life threatening - but takes a strong stand on Christian women rebelling against men by setting healthy boundaries and protecting their children.

Of course this is a concern to me.  I do think that at some point there may be an effort to "save me", whether I want it or not, and if I think about this too much, it freaks me out. A lot.  I also feel a strong sense of the protection of God over my life.  One thing that reassures me is the results of the nuclear stress test that I had done on my heart and arteries a while ago. After several years of intense stress and even concerted efforts to induce stress-related angina attacks and cardiac events, my arteries are clear and my heart is strong.  Instead, the rage and violence that my abuser hoped would cause damage to me instead compromised his own health.  Years ago, God gave me Psalm 18 as a promise to me, when I was in fear and being attacked. God has protected me in many incredible ways.  His hand is on me. I believe this fully.

One way that He is protecting me is giving me wisdom and discernment over what I talk about in public.  I never post publicly in any social media or here on the blog when I am going to be alone at home for any length of time.  There are certain places that I just won't go alone. I have been warned, by friends and family, even by friends of my abuser, to never be alone with him, and I do my best to keep to this.  And there are some things that cannot be discussed here, or if I do discuss them, must be controlled.

Still, I do want to share my joy with those who love me. I am in a new relationship. His name is Brian.  He is a kind, loving, godly, humble, funny, smart, interesting, beautiful person.  He makes me laugh, just talking to him calms my heart, he makes me think and he respects my faith, my perspective, my gifts and abilities.  He also makes me feel safe.  He is an extension of God's protective, loving care for me. He is truly a gift, and my cup runneth over. Like, seriously.

I can't go into a lot of detail, but that is just for now. Yes, it irks me to no end, that I can't say what I want to say, that I have to protect myself like this, but I have much to protect myself for.  And it is only for a season.

 I do want to say, one of the major reasons I discuss, on this blog and in social media, the accusations and threats that have come my way is because I believe that the more open I am, the more protected I am. There is a reason why abusers and bullies try so hard to silence their victims. There is a reason why the ugly, abusive comments I get on this blog are always anonymous.  Abusers and their supporters find safety in anonymity.  I don't go out of my way to name people, I am not trying to hurt or shame anyone. I think people are shamed by their own actions, by the very need to remain anonymous.  I know who is involved, and who I think the supporters are, and those close to me know these things, too.

There is safety in a crowd. So, if someone threatens to try to "save me"  whether I want it or not (and I think that we can all agree that such a "promise" coming from someone who has physically assaulted me is, actually, a threat), I essentially move into my "crowd" by letting you all know about it. Now, if anything happens to me, it happens in front of you. There is accountability.  There is a record of the threats. For me, there is safety in that. And I appreciate you all for being there.

I have written before about how it takes a dedicated community to shut down bullying. There is power in a community of friends and family who simply show up, who make their presence known, who refuse to allow victims to face their abusers alone.  I cannot express how grateful I am for all of you who have "shown up" every time I have needed you.

I am reminding of this quote, from one of my very favorite Hobbits (Bilbo Baggins), in one of my very favorite books -

 "It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door," he used to say. "You step into the Road, and if you don't keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to." ~ The Fellowship of the Ring

Still, I do believe it is time for another adventure....

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Moving on...

Wow, it has been a while, huh?  One thing that you can be sure of is that even if I am quiet here on the blog, God is still moving and working in my heart and life.  Sometimes the silence means that He is working so much, I can't express it in words.  Which for me, is something.  
         Picture courtesy of shantihp.blogspot.comhant

So, what has God been teaching/working in me?  So much of the wonderful (and yes, difficult) stuff in this blog is relational. This is no different.  I am discovering that I am ready for another romantic relationship.  It has been a journey. The details aren't important at this point.  The important thing is that I am discovering so much about myself, and about God and the reality of how He has changed me, and is changing me.  I love the promise that God makes, that He will be faithful to continue the work that He has begun in us.

So, remember all those posts that talked about how God was teaching me how to set healthy boundaries?  I now know that His work was true, and I am able to set healthy boundaries and to hold firm under pressure to do something that I am not comfortable with, or be someone that I am not.  I can be graceful and kind, but firm.  I feel brave, and hopeful.  I can say hello, good-bye, and even hello again to someone new.

I know more about who I am as a life partner, and what I want.  I have been and am being challenged to trust, to open myself up, to reach out.  And I am grateful to God's lessons on boundaries, because knowing where I end and someone else begins creates safety in relationships, for both of us.  I know what I am responsible for, and what I am not.  I am learning patience, and peace.  I am learning that it is okay to not always know what to do, and it is okay to wait until God makes it clear.

And I am learning that I will always be learning.

I like it.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Way of the Cross, The Way of the Resurrection

Often, we want our trust in God to lead to safety and prosperity for us, not glory for God. And we struggle to trust Him, because we quickly come to the realization that our comfort is not His primary concern. 

Oh, we speak brave words about sacrifice and suffering leading to growth and a deeper reliance on God. But when we obey Him, and the path that He leads us on ends in suffering, we turn 
to Him and frown, and wonder if He is really who He says He is. And if we see others walking a path that leads to pain, we shake our heads, sure that they cannot be walking in obedience to God. Because we want to be safe. Above all. Despite the worship songs, despite the judicial posting of Bible verses on Facebook, despite our declarations of devotion, we want to be safe.

Yes, God is glorified in the healing of a broken heart...but wouldn't it be better if no hearts were broken? If no one loved fully, devotedly, passionately? If no risks were taken, if no promises were offered, if love was held back and boxed for safety? Do we so quickly forget Jesus, on the cross, loving us fully, devotedly, passionately? Do we forget the risk He took, the promise He offered, the love that He refused to hold back, but poured on us in a tsunami of passion and wonder?

When God heals a broken heart, He leaves it filled with Himself, filled with His love, filled with courage and hope. A heart that has never been broken has never felt the wonder of the touch of God. We who profess devotion to a once broken Lord are not free to refuse to be broken...and healed. There is no love in fear. We are the brave ones, the adventurous ones, the foolish ones...the deeply loved and passionately loving ones. It is the way of the Cross, and glory of glories, the way of the Resurrection.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Christ is Risen!

He is risen indeed!

song appears on Steve Bell's CD 'Kindness' 

Was it a morning like this
When the sun still hid from Jerusalem
And Mary rose from her bed
To tend the Lord she thought was dead

Was it a morning like this
When Mary walked down from Jerusalem
And two angels stood at the tomb
Bearers of news she would hear soon

Did the grass sing
Did the earth rejoice to feel you again
Over and over like a trumpet underground
Did the earth seem to pound He is risen!
Over and over like in a never ending round
He is risen! Alleluia!

Was it a morning like this
When Peter and John ran from Jerusalem
And as they raced for the tomb
Beneath their feet was there a tune

Friday, March 29, 2013

Good Friday Thoughts - This is Love

I was at the church this morning, working on the bulletin and doing other tasks. At one point, I was in the sanctuary. As I walked across the platform to change the hymn numbers on the board, I saw a crown of thorns, resting on the pulpit. I stopped and picked it up. There were others around me, but they faded into the distance. I ran my finger along one of the thorns. It was long, sharp. There were many of them in the crown. I didn't have to try to imagine them being pushed down onto Jesus' head. The picture just came. I pressed my thumb into one of the thorns. Felt the sting. Saw a tiny bead of blood come to the surface of my skin. My heart filled with sorrow and love. 

My Jesus wore that crown so that I would one day be able to gently place it back on the pulpit, take a deep breath, whisper a prayer of love, and walk away from it. 

It is a mystery of grace, of passion and love. I do not understand it. I do not deserve it. I cannot yet, after over 25 years of following Jesus, fathom it. But I live it, and walk it and breathe it, and find myself in it. And am healed.

Thank you, dearest Lord Jesus.

music and lyric by Steve Bell
adapted from John 13-17

Father, just before the hour comes
That was set aside to glorify your son
With a glory from before the world began
With a glory given to no other man
Protect the one's you've given me to love
I so desire that none of them be lost
They've yet to understand the mystery
Why the Son of God would wash another's feet

But this is not the same
It's a different thing altogether
This is not the same
It's a different thing altogether
This is love

My prayer is not for only these alone
But for those who follow after I'm gone
May they understand the love you have for me
As the kind of love that changes everything
They argue who will sit next to the throne
I cringe to hear them say "Thy kingdom come"
They think they know what they're getting into
But we both know that they haven't got a clue...

'Cause this is not the same
It's a different thing altogether
This is not the same
It's a different thing altogether
This is love

Now here's something that they won't like
Someone's coming to take the life
No one has to look farther than me
For I Am He
Some will trust in the things they think they know
They should think again and let them go
Put away the sword and get behind
And let me die

This is not the same
It's a different thing altogether
This is not the same
It's a better thing altogether
This is love
This is love

Monday, March 25, 2013

Opening Comments

I don't know whether I am feeling especially brave these days, or whether it's just the right time, but I have made the decision to open comments on my blog again.  Of course, they will still be moderated, which means comments come to me first and then if they are acceptable, I post them. Pretty much anything is acceptable, except for trolling.  Trolling is essentially trying to gain attention for oneself by insulting or demeaning others on the net.  It's being a jerk on the internet, just because we can.  And it thrives in  anonymity.  The trolling comments that I have received on the blog have been all the more disturbing because they come from people who seem to know me.  I stopped comments because I was in a vulnerable place, and dealing with the comments were too upsetting. I was dealing with a lot of loss, including the death of my mother, and sadly not everyone respects these times in our lives.  I'm in a different place now, mentally, spiritually and emotionally.

I do want to be very clear, though.  I welcome comments, even ones that disagree with me or have questions.  I have no problem with anonymous comments, either. Almost all of the acceptable anonymous comments have come from people who have made themselves known within the comment, but that's not even necessary.  What I take issue with is the use of anonymity to hide aggressive, insulting, personal attacks.  These come from people who don't want discussion, don't want to learn or understand.  They want to hurt.

One example is an anonymous comment that I received on a post called "Some Thoughts on Anti-bullying Day". The comment simply said, "It takes one to know one."  I didn't allow it to be posted.  The idea that someone who can identify the fact that they are being bullied automatically becomes a bully is absurd.  I have some idea where this comment came from.  I was told that one of the ways that I bullied my abuser was by calling him a bully.  Apparently telling someone who is physically harming you that they are bullying you is a criminal offense.  This is not a comment that has been thought about, or is open to discussion. It is angry, defensive, insulting and ridiculous.  It's a bully's response to a victim who stands up for themselves. It's not worth posting.

Please know that I love hearing what you think.  The vast majority of my readers have been smart, compassionate, open and friendly.  You guys literally rock.  I am open to hearing and listening to all kinds of ideas and everything you might have to say. I covet any suggestions that you might have that will help me be a better person, Christian, blogger, mother, friend...I pray that my heart for God, and for you comes through in these posts.

I have been told that the reason people who post ugly comments want to remain anonymous is because they are afraid that I will "come after them".  I guess, in one way, they are right.  If they write things that further hurt or damage victims of abuse, I will address it.  And it probably won't be pretty.  Spewing hate-filled, incoherent, mindless insults will probably be called out. Maybe not, though. After all, what can we do with a comment like, "it takes one to know one" except roll our eyes and hope that the comment came from an angry 12 year old and not an actual adult?  If "coming after them" means disagreeing, arguing, using actual facts, incidents and Scripture to back up positions on faith and human relationships, then yeah, that might happen.

Sometimes it feels like this issue and these people take up way too much time and space here on the blog. But then I think about the countless stories of children, teens and adults who have to deal with bullying behavior everyday.  These things are opportunities to address the issues that surround bullying.  They provide examples, and give us the chance to work through methods of dealing with them.  More importantly, they help me understand the emotional, physical, spiritual and social impact that bullying behavior has on victims as well as on bullies themselves.  I really do feel compassion for people who only know how to deal with disappointment, sadness and difficulties with anger and aggression.  I have been there, and know how that feels.  I appreciate the freedom that God offers me in these times, in learning how to set healthy boundaries, to walk away from abusive behavior before I get too angry, to talk openly about these issues and to live in a community of support and love.

It may be that I am feeling overly confident, and will end up shutting down comments again at some point.  If that happens, so be it.  I can be kind with myself about these things.  But for now, if you want to leave a comment, by all means, go ahead.

Peace out.

Monday, March 18, 2013

A day of rest...and Lord of the Rings

Today was supposed to be a day of rest-and-putting-a-stop-to-this-bladder-flare.  I did clean, but just a bit.  Swept the floor, tidied the kitchen, did some laundry.  I blew the dust off the television.  So that doesn't really count.  I made bagels.  I shoved horse-sized worm pills down the throats of two indignant cats, which was way more fun than one person should get to experience. All in all, it was a light day.

I tried to write the blog post that I've been thinking about for the past few days, the one based on the image of Jesus that I found, but it just wasn't happening.  Sometimes blogging is like that.

I did take a nap and I watched Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring (for the umpteenth time). Does that count as rest? I think it does, up until the part where Boromir gets killed and I got all weepy and sobbled on Schmitty and that didn't feel quite restful.  I'm still in bladder pain, but I don't feel so wiped. So, I guess it was a good day.

*Caution - the rest of this post is Lord of the Rings heavy, and contains some spoilers if you haven't seen the movies or read the books.  Hopefully you'll get the basic idea of what I am saying, but you still should probably go rent the movies or buy the books or something. Seriously.* 

You know, when I initially watched the Lord of the Rings movies, read the books and fell head-over-heels into the Ringer world, Boromir was the first character to catch my heart.  I loved his strength. And his vulnerability.  He was so flawed, and yet his desire for the power of the ring was rooted in his belief that the salvation of his world was on his shoulders.  He was faced with a task that he knew, in his inner being, was too big for him.  Therein lay the temptation to believe the lie that he, above all other men, could handle the power of the ring and turn it to his will.  He believed he could because he believed that he had to.  He saw no other way.

How many times do we fall into that trap?  When we take on responsibilities that are not our own, when we allow pride or desperation to trick us into thinking that everything is on our shoulders, that all will be lost if we fail, that we are alone and responsible for things outside of our control, when we are convinced that doing our best just isn't going to be is so easy to start to compromise our faith, our beliefs, what we know to be true.  We forget that we have a God who is bigger than we are, that each person in our lives owns their own "stuff" and is responsible for their own feelings, thoughts and actions.  That sometimes we have to fail so that someone else finds their own way.  That it really isn't all about us. We can see that we have a role to play in this journey, and even if we don't know exactly what that role is, we can pretty much rest assured that the fate of the entire world doesn't rest on our shoulders. Whew.

When Boromir fell into the power of temptation, tried to take the ring from Frodo and forced Frodo to put the ring on to escape, he saw the truth about the ring, and about himself.  And I love that.  Having fallen, having put into play events that he could then never change, he cried out for forgiveness, lifted himself from the forest floor and ran back into the battle.  He fought with bravery and a power born from love restored to him by the truth.  Confessing his weaknesses and failures did not further weaken him.  It returned to him his love for his friends and it filled him with strength.

I admire Boromir because when he failed, he quickly admitted it, asked forgiveness and continued on.  What a gift that is.  He gave his life in honor and glory, in defense of the hobbits that he loved and sought to protect. That, to me, is heroic.

There is a deep, powerful strength that comes from being vulnerable enough to admit when we are wrong.  When we are weak.  I see that same power and strength in many of my friends, who humbly confess their weakness and dependence on God, relying on His forgiving love and mercy to help them move forward on a journey that is much too large for them. These dear ones inspire me to be the same, to relax in my weakness, to confess how much I need God's help and forgiveness, to trust Him for new strength each day, each moment.  And to keep moving forward.

I am grateful for a God that offers grace and mercy each and every time I seek Him for it, and for people in my life who continually reach out to me and point me to Him when I need help on the journey.  I'm also grateful for the brilliance of authors who create characters like Boromir, authors who understand that true heroes aren't perfect.  True heroism allows God to transform pain into compassion.  Failure into wisdom. Brokenness into gentleness. Flaws into humility.  And loss into love.

Just a thought.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Busy week = Crazy tired

Pic courtesy of
As of about 30 minutes ago, I seemed to have crossed the line from really tired to how-am-I-still-moving? fatigue.  Just like that. Ah, the wacky world of chronic illness.

It has been a very busy week, which my heart and head maintain is a good thing.  My body begs to differ.  I've been feeling so well lately, I've gotten used to not thinking too much about how much I do in a day.  I try to keep a balance between activity and rest, but because each day requires differing amounts of effort and my pain/energy levels fluctuate, it's not easy. I worked out several times last week, too, which wouldn't be a problem if I wasn't flaring.  And when I do work out, the exercise-induced endorphins actually help with the bladder pain. But at the same time, the exercises can shake, rattle and roll a wounded, ulcered  flaring bladder. Which results in more pain later. Bummer.

Pic courtesy of
I'm not exactly sure when I started this IC flare (click the link for more info on IC) but it's been going on for at least a week. And I think I just hit the wall.

The fatigue from this sort of thing is different than normal tired.  It's kind of like flu-tired - I feel achy, weak, shaky, emotional and overwhelmed.  By the time I hit this point, I have been trying to wind down for a few days, so all my energy has gone into my job and volunteering.  What I am trying to say is that my house is a mess.  I just kind of half-heartedly blow the dust off of the shelves and swish the dust bunnies back under the sofa where they came from.  The books are piling up on the end tables and the desk in the living room.  I don't really care too much, though.  Or at least, I am trying not to.  Aside from the mild frustration of stuff being in the way, it doesn't bother me so much. And I know that it is cool to say that I don't care what anyone else thinks.  But I do.  Honesty is cool, too.  Although, if I really think about it, I don't have that many people in my life who would get all judgy and anal about it, so that's cool.  Besides, the mop's by the door - to clean up snow puddles - so anyone who says anything will be promptly put to work.

Tomorrow I am going to take it easy, lounge around in comfy jammies and hang in bed.  I have a blog post that I am eager to get to. I found a picture of Jesus that I fell in love with. Okay, not an actual picture of Jesus. You know what I mean.  Anyway, for the first time ever, I'll be writing a post around a picture instead of finding pictures to fit my posts.  Seriously, though. This picture makes my heart sing.

So, despite the flare, things are going well.  I'll be starting a new part-time job as a secretary in my church soon.  I'm getting more hours at work.  I'm enjoying working as a volunteer with a great group of students. God is doing some really amazing things in my heart, and in my life.  It's a journey that isn't always fun, and there are often tears.  But oh, I love the joy of never being without my God, of living in His constant care and attention. I am not just learning more about Him.  I am getting to know Him in ways that I had never imagined possible.  Awesomeness!

So, blessed friends, the dishes are done, I just took a green cake out of the oven - a la St. Patrick's Day.  And it's time for a Sunday after noon nap.  *happy sigh*

Peace out.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Well, hello Sun!

What a lovely week-end. It feels like Spring has come.  I know that we've had some nice days in the past month, but to be honest, I've been a little oblivious. I've written briefly here about my Lenten journey. There's a reason I call it a journey. The past few weeks have been a walk through forgiveness, letting go, hope, faith, as well as deep revelations about myself, God and our relationship with each other. It's been painful.  But lovely at the same time. Kind of like labor.  I wouldn't exactly choose it, but if it's the only way to get the wonderful gift at the end, it is worth it.

The past week has been one of quiet reflection.  Last week-end I was alone here, because Grace went to Vermont to visit family. I didn't blog about it or mention it on Facebook because of some of the threats I have been receiving lately. There's no use asking for trouble. Which is sad.

 Anyway, I usually don't do well alone on week-ends, and last week-end initially seemed like it would be no different.  God used the time alone with me, though, to show me some things from my way past, past....that needed to be addressed, forgiven and released.  I also needed to forgive some people. It was a very healing time, and I continued in quietness, prayer and Bible study for most of the week.

There were also some losses that I needed to mourn. It was very painful, so painful in fact that I felt it in my chest.  I actually had several episodes of chest pain,  They say that it is possible to die of a broken heart, and I believe it. I knew that it was the emotional strain, and part of the courage to endure came from knowing that it was a journey, and that I would not be on this road forever. The road to freedom really was as close as opening my eyes and accepting the inner work of God's Spirit in my heart.  The result was the beginnings of a gentle peace that replaced the restless pain that I have been spending a lot of time trying not to notice. Healing doesn't happen overnight, and I am still in mourning, but I know that my heart is being softened and made more tender with God's love for those around me.  I trust God's healing, and cling to His hand on this walk.

If you think of me this week and if you pray, would you please pray for me?  God will give you the words.  Never underestimate the power of your prayerful desire for God to bless another.  It is kind of like asking God to pour rain on your neighbor's parched, dry land.  Your parched, dry land receives the rain as well.  His love is life-giving water, bubbling and overflowing into all our desolate places.  How cool is that?

I found out this week-end that I got another part-time job, this time as a secretary for my church.  I figured it was a God thing when one of the church elders approached me about the job, and after I told him how awful I would be at it, he paused and then said, "Well, let me get you a job description anyway." Which he did. I applied. And was accepted.  When I had a chance to think about it, I realized that the job was actually within my skill set.  More importantly, though, it would give me a chance to get involved in the church, and to serve God.  As with everything, my role is to simply put myself in the place where I am free to serve God in any way He chooses, and then I can leave the rest up to Him.

On a lighter note, I had a complete blond moment last night.  I was on Facebook, and read that someone had accidentally set all her clocks back one hour, instead of forward.  Which, you know, is something I totally can see myself doing. So I wrote this long, silly Facebook post about trying to figure out where to set my clocks. I even pondered changing them half and half.  Just to confuse Grace.  Hey, I'm pretty sure I've already lost the coveted 2013 mother-of-the-year award, so why not?

I should know better than to joke about these things.  *sigh*  I absolutely knew that I was supposed to turn the clocks forward.  You know, the whole "Spring forward, Fall back" thing.  So I logged off Facebook, closed down the computer, turned off the lights, and set about setting all of our clocks...BACK an hour.  Yeah.  Got into bed, changed the time on my clock radio (which, by the way, I've had for over 27 years 'cause that's when they made stuff that lasts!) back to 9pm from 10.  Thought, whoa, it's too early to go to bed!  Read my Bible for a bit, did some journalling and snuggled down in the bed, secure in the *erroneous* belief that I had literally HOURS before I had to get up. Totally oblivious.  Until 4:55 am, when I woke up and wondered why it was so light out, so early.  Cue, the "a-ha" moment.

You know, I am aware that I am not dumb.  But sometimes, if I rely on my "default" setting and don't intentionally think things through and keep thinking them through until the end....egad.  I just have to say how grateful I am for "a-ha" moments, and the chance to change all the clocks to the right time before Grace got up.  Because all that talk about messing with Grace's head with half and half clocks?  Just talk.  All of it.

You're welcome, Grace.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Who would you be if you could be you?

As a Christian, I firmly believe that the hard and painful events that I experience can produce good things in my life and the lives of those around me, if I turn to God in my pain and rely on Him for wisdom, strength and guidance.  This isn't a Pollyanna thing.  The Bible often describes these sorts of things as akin to giving birth.  Or planting  a seed - laborious, painful, life from death.

I hope that as I write about my life here, I in no way give the impression that the belief that my suffering is meaningful leaves me lilting through my digitally remastered world singing, "Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down..."  It just ain't so.

Still, there are moments when I realize what I have gained in the midst of the losses.  One of those gains has been a clearer perception of who I really am.  Over the past several years, rejection from my primary community and some significant people in my life has left me deeply wounded.  And surprisingly, free to start the real me.

Does this mean that I was faking all along? Of course not.  Very few of us are fully aware of how we are shaped and molded by the ideas and expectations of those around us. It's just not that cut and dried.  Even those of us who consider ourselves individualists and rebels often define our rebellion by what society considers normal.  Sometimes, making a choice to be different is, in itself, a reaction to societal expectations and not a true representation of who we are. What if we really do like Taylor Swift songs?  Or Kraft Dinner?  Or...*gasp*...reality shows?  We are all in the process of becoming, and the path is a twisted, winding one.  We do the best we can with what we know.

As much as it hurts, there is something strangely freeing about being rejected by one's community and significant others.  It gives us the opportunity, not to re-invent ourselves, but to find out who we are and to become more fully ourselves.  Ideally, in any healthy community or relationship, the freedom to grow and be ourselves in an accepting, intimate connection with others exists.  Failing that, though, being tossed out on one's keister is the next best option.

I have been experiencing this over the past several years, and it is an adventure.  To be honest, it's more of a  "taking the One Ring to Mordor" adventure, but an adventure none-the-less.  I have a handful of precious women who have remained close;  strong, compassionate and brave women who have loved me in the midst of my messiness with the passion and dedication of God Himself.  I have also been making new relationships.  This is where the fun (and scariness) comes in.  I am 46 years old.  I want to enter new relationships as myself, not conforming to what I think people might expect from me. But who am I?  How much of who I am now is me, and how much of it is about trying to move safely through the world without getting rejected again?

 This is especially hard after so much rejection.  Rejection for being me.  As I grow and heal and learn, I am discovering who I am, and becoming more comfortable with myself.  I am also becoming more comfortable with the fact that some aspects of who I am will not make me popular with others.  The people-pleaser in me is dying a slow, painful death.  Ouch.

I sometimes find myself making almost formal announcements about who I am to myself, in my journal or in my own head.  To sound it out. To gain courage.  To get to know me.  So, I'll be lying in bed, trying to fall asleep, and inside my head my "public speaking" voice comes out and I will boldly announce to myself - "I am the kind of person who cares more about the well-being of the people around me and less about the fact that I don't have one piece of new furniture in my home...and probably won't for a really long time."  or " I am the kind of person who does not let go easily, who is deeply hopeful, and who will never allow myself or my child to be pushed around or abused again."

And then, there's this, "I am the kind of person who turns to goo whenever anyone says that they read my blog.  Because I am proud of it.  I might get all gushy and excited.  Or giggle.  Because I truly am honored that anyone reads this stuff.  I might even make you cookies..."

You know what is really special?  As I am travelling this road, and becoming more real, I am discovering a rich, loving community that seems to be perfectly fine with who I am.  I know I keep going back to the idea of community, but you cannot imagine how valuable you all are to me.  Or maybe you can.  While I don't want to be defined by my community, I am learning who I am partially by seeing myself in their eyes.  Last fall, while I was sitting on a friend's floor playing with his dogs, he commented that the dogs liked me because they sensed my character, and that it was good.  For him it was probably a random thought.  For me, it was a gift. You see me like that?  Even when I am being really, really me?

God is my Creator, my Transformer, the One who guides and leads me.  My community is the beautiful forest that I get to grow up in.  I'm not absolutely sure who I will be as I grow to be me.  I do know that God has promised to complete the work that He has begun in me (Philippians 1:6).

So...who would you be if you could really be you?

Saturday, March 2, 2013

My Lenten Journey

God's Covenant
God made a covenant with us. The word covenant means "coming together." God wants to come together with us. In many of the stories in the Hebrew Bible, we see that God appears as a God who defends us against our enemies, protects us against dangers, and guides us to freedom. God is God-for-us. When Jesus comes a new dimension of the covenant is revealed. In Jesus, God is born, grows to maturity, lives, suffers, and dies as we do. God is God-with-us. Finally, when Jesus leaves he promises the Holy Spirit. In the Holy Spirit, God reveals the full depth of the covenant. God wants to be as close to us as our breath. God wants to breathe in us, so that all we say, think and do is completely inspired by God. God is God-within-us. Thus God's covenant reveals to us to how much God loves us.

Henry Nouwen

I read this quote from Henry Nouwen on Facebook this morning (Thanks, Karl Ingersoll).  

This is my Lenten journey - to more fully grasp the reality of rest and be still in my brokenness while God-within-me works in me, comforts me, heals me, transforms me. To know, know, know that while I feel like I am dying, like every day is Good Friday...God-in-me lives, and Easter is coming. 

Yes. Easter is coming.

My Zimbio