Saturday, February 27, 2010
Friday, February 26, 2010
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Worthwhile of your time, worthwhile of your heart, worthwhile of your personal desire to start
To start to understand how things used to be. To start to understand the things and events in my life that have made me, me.
I was a child, who loved to play, and dreamed of being a wife and mommy someday
I was a teenager with many grand wishes, filling my hope chest with linens and dishes
I was the young wife who fell in love, and quickly learned what hard work was made of
I was the young mother holding babies on my hips, wiping away tears, Sewing, cooking and mending for many long years.
I was a middle aged woman, whose children are grown, and have babies of their very own. I gained a new title other then “wife and mother”, now to add to my beautiful life, I am a grandmother!
I am the grieving widow who longs for her spouse, who struggles to live life without the hugs, without the kisses, without the “good mornings” and Saturday porch breakfast.
I am the woman whose life has new meaning, a woman who is pursuing adventures that feel quite freeing! I have more time to give of myself to those in need, and finding that I need them too. I have learned that the relationships that come from that kind of giving are a blessing in disguise that has helped me make it through.
I am the woman who no longer knows my own name. I struggle to speak, and my action’s aren’t tame. I lash out with my fist, knowing no other way, to communicate the pain that I’m feeling that day. I know deep down inside, that something isn't right… that all of a sudden, I’m losing the fight. Will you fight for me? Will you choose to see? Will you love me, love me for me? Will you say my name, and not my disease? Will you reach out your hand, will you throw me a rope? Will you help me to find ways ,
to find ways to cope with my anxiety and fear, find a way to let me know you are near? Not just physically near, but near in heart…for caregiver, that is the very place to start. I need to know that I’m not alone in this fight, I need to know that it’s going to be all right. Will you show me how, will you lead the way? Will you sing old songs with me, and help me handle whatever comes my way?
Saturday, February 20, 2010
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Monday, February 15, 2010
Sunday, February 14, 2010
From little on, I've always viewed Valentine's Day as being a day to be celebrated. My mother was ( and still is!) very gifted at making holidays special, adding meaning and purpose to holidays that most people miss the point of as they spend money on food, gifts, etc. I have really sweet memories of Valentine's Day as a child.
Love is a wonderful thing. However, I feel that our society has succeeded in skewing the definition of what love truly is. We have all given into the verbal trend of attaching the powerful word "love" with inanimate objects like coffee and trucks, while turning right around and saying that we are either "in love" or "love" somebody in our life.
What about the love that doesn't "feel" good? The love that is displayed by the father who refuses to allow his unrepentant, narcotic addicted son to live in his home. The friend who speaks a painful, necessary truth in love to another friend, and is then in turn is rejected for demonstrating this love.
How about the "Unnoticed" love? The stay at home mom who faithfully rises each morning to take care of her family; folding the laundry, making home made meals, and wiping the vomit from her children's mouth when they have the flu? What about the father who works 70 hours a week in order to pay the bills and put food on the table? My favorite example of "unnoticed" love is the spouse who faithfully visits his wife every day, despite the fact that his wife does not recognize him any more, and cannot verbally communicate anything to him, due to the horrific disease of Dementia.
Very few people today go through the kind of hardships that people from this time period did. Building a house with your own two hands, only to have it burn down, along with all of your livestock. Losing your babies to illnesses that could have been prevented with medicine that wasn't yet discovered, with the reality that a doctor and help was miles and miles away. Having to leave precious valuables behind, such as friends, family and those items that weren't necessary to survive, and would also weigh down the wagon. Enduring month after month of intense heat, blisters, and exhaustion while commuting to an unknown territory, without the comfort and certainty of knowing what the destination actually is.
A powerful example of the fact that God has indeed designed gender roles, is the homosexual relationship. I know that this is a touchy subject for a lot of people, but bear with me as I bring this point to the fore front. In most homosexual relationships, it is apparent that even though it is a relationship between people of the same sex, one individual assumes the "male" and the "female" gender role. I know that it goes much deeper then this, but that is as far as I'm going to go with that topic for this post. To me, it just affirms in a very strong, powerful way that God has made man and woman, complete with different needs and different roles.
It makes my heart ache to see people who don't love themselves, don't allow themselves to love, and to be loved. Those people who do not have the power to do so, because they have never been shown, or they have, and were maimed for life. I believe with everything in me that satan uses fear and regret as the ultimate tool to prevent us from experiencing the joy of loving others, and loving ourselves. If this makes my heart ache, I can only imagine what it does to the heart of God.
I don't think that it is a coincidence that Easter follows right after Valentine's Day. Most people think of "new life" and "Resurrection" when they hear the word "Easter", but as we enter the days that lead up to Good Friday, we are reminded of the ultimate demonstration of love: Jesus's death on the cross. This Valentine's Day, I pray that you will allow yourself to experience this love that enables and strengthens you to have the courage to love others deeply, as Christ loves us. May God's love free you, inspire you and uplift you in a world where true love is unknown.
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son. For whosoever believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal Life." -John 3:16
Thursday, February 11, 2010
This post is about something very near and dear to my heart....and that topic is the African American people/culture. February is "National Black History Month". I put this recognition on my calendar, and created a reminisce program for my residents.
I have distinct memories as a child of flipping through the culture and religion books in the "Child Craft" encyclopedias ( does anyone else remember those?). My favorite book series as a child was the "American Girl" series, and my favorite "American Girl" was Addy, the young slave girl. I have beautiful memories of my mom reading them to me, as part of teaching me how to read. I remember how one time she started crying as we read about how Addy and her mother had to leave her baby sister behind before they fled the plantation, because the baby might cry and give them away.
Secretly ( and I guess not so secretly any more!) I have always wanted to be a black woman. Their culture possesses so much strength, beauty and of coarse, "soul". :) I've always wanted to go to a random black Baptist church, and whoop it up with the congregation, singing at the top of my lungs like I had talent like Whitney Houston or Diana Ross.
Some of my all time favorite movies are the inspiring, heart wrenching movies like "The Color Purple", "Remember the Titans", "The Great Debaters", "To Kill a Mockingbird" and my latest favorite "The Secret Lives of the Bees". My heart never ceases to skip a beat as I watch the leading characters stand against prejudice and ignorance, and love and live with a passion that gives me something to reach for in my own life.
Last semester, I took a class called "Cultures in the Work Place". I will remember this class for as long as I live. The exercises that we did, the places that we saw, the conversations that were sparked, awakened a life long love and passion for culture and diversity. It also helped me realize how unknowingly, I have chosen to be educated on different cultures, two being the Deaf culture and senior citizens.
One of the books I read for that class was called "The Color of Water", by James McBride. James McBride wrote the book on his life, but put special emphasis on the life of his mother. His mother was born into a Jewish family, but married a black man and had a large amount of children. His mother suffered physical, emotional and sexual abuse, became a widow more then once, but most of all, she did not allow these things to define who she was, pulling her down and taking her under.
That is one of the many things that I so appreciate about the African American culture. Their spirit. In the book, there is a part where James asks his mother what color God is:
What would happen if every person in the world believed this to be true? How would things change? Further more, when will we start looking at the heart of the person, and not their skin color, disability or lack of social class? When will we begin to realize that education is the answer to ignorance and fear? When will we start embracing difference, and realize that that difference could in turn aid in saving our lives?
I don't want to get all "Uncle Sam"ish on you, but it starts with YOU. And, most importantly, as Christians, we are commanded to love and accept, even if we don't understand. What we must understand is that God is the color of water....and water doesn't have a color.
Monday, February 8, 2010
When I worked at Saint Luke's as an Activities Assistant, they played and sang this song in the bell choir. You will all recognize the song...it just has a little bit of a different twist to it.
Saturday, February 6, 2010
Upon starting my Saturday morning, I made my habitual four cups of morning coffee and settled into my daily devotionals. I know that I've blogged about the ones that I'm reading from this year, but I'm going to share the titles again. The first one is "The Language of Letting Go" by Melody Beattie, and the second one is "A Grand New Day" which is by the "Women of Faith" speaker team, as well as various guest speakers that have spoken in their ministry throughout the years.
I can usually glean something from each daily reading, but this morning's reading in "A New Day" really hit me hard. I have come to find that I am a visual learner, next to being a verbal processor. I think that it takes the combination for me to really "get" something.
The devotional this morning was entitled " Surviving a Crisis of the Soul" and it was written by famous singer, author and motivational speaker, Sandy Patty.
" I have found that there are three things broken people need in order to survive a crisis of the soul.
- First, you need people who will be "Jesus with skin on". A few "unshockable" saints who don't try to see through you but instead show up in work clothes with their spiritual sleeves rolled up to try to help see you through. They are the good Samaritans among us who don't lean back in an above-it-all posture, clicking their tongues, analyzing why you are lying face down in the dirt. They simply bring you bandages and try to get you where help can be found. They are "safe people". And for awhile, perhaps a long while, you'll need to put barriers up to protect yourself from "unsafe" people.
- Second, you need a "safe place", a physical space apart from the maddening crowd where you can have the space and time and nurturing environment that will help you find your life's balance, your sanity, and your faith again.
- Third, you need a "safe God". Not, mind you, a tame God. Not a water downed version of God. But a great and powerful God who is as tender as a Shepherd is with His lost little lamb."-Sandy Patty (Excerpt from her book "Falling Forward")
Have you ever felt that at times, there were friends in your life who could only "see through you", rather then "see you through"? I know that I have. Sometimes it seemed like a particular hardship or "crisis of the soul" would happen and carry out for a very long stretch of time. During this time, it was apparent where the dividing line was amongst my friends, as well as the other relationships in my life. It is during these times, that we as human beings ache for real friendship...the kind of friendship that, as Sandy Patty put it "will show up in their work clothes with their spiritual sleeves pulled up, ready to see you through". To add to that, to have those kinds of friends that won't try to supply answers, analyze things, give you a "to do" list, or simply just not say anything at all, when you are in need of verbal encouragement and affirmation.
Now, here is the tough question. Do you strive and make an effort to be a "good Samaritan"friend? Do you do what you can to lay aside your personal emotions of discomfort and fear in order to meet a loved one where they are at, right there in the ugliness of open and festering wounds?
If my memory serves me correctly, I think that at one point I wrote a blog post a little bit about "safe" and "unsafe" people. Often times, the people who are "unsafe" are hurting in a very deep way....in such a deep way, that it affects all the relationships in their lives. In the book "Captivating" by John and Stasi Eldredge, they paint that picture well, applying it to the types of women. "unsafe" women are often "striving women". They are those women that you don't feel at rest when you are around them. They are constantly trying to improve something, give you an answer, and are not accepting of the concept of surrender, because in their mind, all control is ultimately theirs. But the reality is that fear is what drives the "striving woman". Accepting and realizing in the depths of your heart that there are things in life that you cannot control, makes a person vulnerable. It allows that person to feel and experience emotions that are unpredictable and usually quite painful.
"Safe" people are those people that we DO feel at ease around. Their very presence says "I am here and I am engaged in who you are." They are those people that you know will listen to you for the sake of listening, will pray for you rather then worry for you, and, most importantly, will communicate in various ways that how you respond to them or feel about them, will not define who they are. They have a deep rooted confidence in who they are as a child of God, and know that any positive attribute that they bring to the table of friendship is not of themselves, but is of the Lord.