I honestly don’t know how much strength it takes to keep on after a big loss(es). You have to be as strong as ____. What would fill in the blank? Steel, a superhero, a diamond? Nothing on earth can prepare anyone to endure certain losses.
What is my truth? I will just list some words that apply. Losing parents, siblings, divorce, empty nesting, losing homes.
Those are some of the losses.
These are the wins:
The love of my children, the love and support I receive through friends, family and strangers. The amount of love I still have in my heart to give to others. Finding my truth, my voice and the strength to help others who have even greater suffering than I do.
I choose to share what it is that keeps me going after all the things I’ve suffered and endured because it is there for those who seek, for those who are out of options, for those who are tired. It’s there for those who have cried enough, who are sad and sinking. It is available just for the asking.
It’s’ the strength from God’s love. That is where I believe it comes from.
Here on the right is a mess, but without knowing the story, you can’t know how it got to be there, why it’s the way it is and why certain pieces are part of this particular mess. That is because you do not know the planner or the purpose of the planner.
On the left is the outcome of such a mess. Inside the box are lessons that were planned from the mess. Inside the box, are lessons tailor made for the player of the box. It took a mess to get to the plan of the box. The things in the mess are not invaluable. The things left out of the box weren’t insignificant, they just weren’t needed. They didn’t belong in the plan, but they were part of the planning. They were sifted through, and put aside to be used at the right time.
As I look at both sides, the box with a plan and the mess, I ask myself, “Which do I prefer to work with?” I think and the answer is that I prefer the box with activities that I know will work for the player. I choose the box because the things in it have purpose for the growth of the player.
Think of these things. Chew on this analogy. What does it fit in your life?
It’s not a celebration to reach the year mark of becoming divorced, but it is a milestone of sorts. It means you survived your first year of being single, especially if becoming single for the first time in 25 years!
I’ve had some time to process the loss of my marriage. I can’t say this process is complete. Perhaps it will never be, but some things remain: the love of God, a community of support and peace in my soul.
And I dare say, the beginnings of hope for something new. What does something new look like? It’s found in these verses: Anything other than this is toxic or on it’s way to becoming toxic. Nobody needs that.
I had a bout of insomnia a week ago and in the course of that fitful night, an image much like a repeating meme came to my mind.
My (meme) was of a head of romaine lettuce being cut with a pair of kitchen scissors and no matter which way I tried to fall asleep, I kept seeing lettuce being snipped.
(I know, crazy right?)
I finally fell asleep, but in the morning, the image came to mind.
I often feel like God talks to me through my dreams, but an image, or vision of lettuce??
What could the God of the universe have to say through greens?
I felt compelled to put salad on the menu for the coming week. I bought romaine lettuce and other salad ingredients and was ready.
The day came for salad and I eagerly “stepped up to the plate” a little to eager with scissors in my right hand and dripping freshly washed head of romaine in my left hand –salad spinner on the counter.
I shook the head of lettuce over the sink to remove the excess water and before plunging in with the scissors, I gazed at the innocent head of lettuce, took a breath and began the snipping. Just as I thought, the snipping sound itself gave a satisfaction. I smiled as I snipped, snipped and snipped again.
As more and more leaves fell into the salad spinner, the core of the romaine became smaller and lighter. I cut again until just the heart was left, devoid and bald in my hand.
I then put the scissors down and inspected the heart. I turned it around and looked at the stump. After a minute, I very satisfactorily chunked it into the trash can.
I went back to the salad spinner, filled it with water, drained it and began pumping the water out. I used this time to think about what just happened and then fitting words came to my mind. I felt content, satisfied.
I continued spinning the leaves until they were only damp and left the kitchen counter smiling.
Have you ever been awakened by an unusually scary dream? One in which you felt paralyzed or unable to speak or cry for help?
This scary night terror as many call it happens to me.
It’s almost always right around 3:00 a.m. It’s then that a dark presence makes itself known or felt.
My experience usually occurs in a dream where I’m floating above my bed, or being dragged across the bed, breathed on, sat near, sheets being pulled over my face…or pressed onto my body. In the dream, it’s as if I’m just awaking I and it’s happening. I become frightened. My heart starts racing, the adrenaline begins pumping. I never see a face, but the sensations feel real. Often my limbs are frozen and my mouth unable to shout for help.
And then, it dawns on me, while still dreaming. This isn’t real, I’m dreaming. Then, something inside me awakens also and almost instinctively knows to call on the name of Jesus. If I can get the name Jesus out of my mouth, it works.
The last night terror I had recently was the one where I felt someone sat on my bed, near me. I called out, “What do you need?” and nothing, I called out again, “What do you need?” And right then, the sheets were pulled over my head and pressed into me as if to smother me. I cried out the name, “Jesus!” But, my mouth was struggling to form the words. So, I tried again and I said, “Be gone by the Blood of the Lamb!” And instantly, I’m awakened by my own voice.
I then realize I was dreaming and I look quickly for my phone to see what time it is, although I already know. I press on the home button and it lights up. 3:00 a.m.
Of course, I think and I lie back down and while my breathing goes back to normal, I begin praying thinking of when Jesus was left praying alone on the night of His capture while his friends were sleeping.
So, I do what I normally do. If I awaken from this kind of dream, I pray for those I know who may be lost or caught hold in the grips of darkness. If I awaken from a dream where a person I know is the “main character” then I pray specifically for them.
Does this ever happen to you? Do you feel the dark presence around you when you awaken? Don’t worry, you are not alone. It happens to me. I used to be bothered by it, but now, even though the experience is frightening, I’m almost glad it happens because it gives me an opportunity to pray.
Often days are busy and I forget to pray, so darkness may have it’s plans for me, but greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world.
I woke up refreshed because I slept. It’s amazing the difference solid sleep can have. And so, today, I’m finally able to write. I’ve been wanting yc.to write a sort of spiritual mission statement. These days, people write books, tweets, or put up articles that show who they are and what they believe. They face persecution for their beliefs whether they are left or right winged. They are judged, challenged, insulted and in the worst news cases, they are killed and this has been true for centuries.
But, what about me? Where do I stand you ask? What do you want me to stand for? What will I march for? These are all good questions and in the state of the world, many are searching for solidarity, followers and like-minded thinkers. I get that.
So, today, having a bit more head space, I decided to write. Not to mention, Sunday’s are the day I allow myself time to think, contemplate, ponder, wonder, envision, dream and grieve. I’m not a part of any congregation currently, but that doesn’t mean I don’t worship, pray or have communion with God, my guide, my companion.
So, to answer the question, I’m a Christian, meaning that I attempt to follow in the ways of Christ as written in the bible. I’m not a perfect follower, nor do I believe any human can be a perfect follower. But I choose to have faith. Basically, faith is believing in what you can’t see. I understand what a stretch Christianity can be and how those who believe are believing in a “virgin-birthed” human who performed unbelievable miracles among other things, like walking on water and such. I get how these things go against any branch of science. The good news is, you have a choice! God is “pro-choice” in that way, he will never force you to believe in him, because force, continual unhealthy coercion and other non-loving tactics go against love, God’s love. But, regardless, I choose by faith, to believe. You can call me a believer.
So, just relax everyone! No true Christian will take your arm and bend it unnaturally in attempt to have you follow. (Sure there are extremists in every religion) A true Christ follower will love you no matter where you are, who you are, and whether you follow in Jesus’s way or not. There is no fear in love, perfect love casts out fear.
If you find yourself curious, seeking, lost or broken or have found yourself feeling disconnected, (as I have) there’s a reason and an answer in many books. But, the truth remains, you have a choice to seek for an answer, for love and this is your journey alone.
It was the decision to follow in the way of Jesus that began my walk with a God. A walk is an active practice. But, there’s also sitting in silence and listening as well. God speaks, but his voice is inaudible, however, he speaks in abundance, if you’re listening.
Thirty-one years ago, and despite many ups and downs in my walk, it still seems to good to be true, to be loved me just as I am. That I didn’t have to perform, earn or give up anything to receive his love. But there was one requirement it seemed. And here’s the part where faith comes in. If I was to be a follower of Christ, then I needed to understand his whole story. That not only was he human, but also God. I realized that it would take faith, not human knowledge to believe that God sent a son, his only son to earth to live as a human and eventually end up dying a terrible death on a cross and later rising defeating death to save all of humanity. I was like, “What the?” Growing up catholic, I’d been raised going to a somber church, reciting prayers while being reminded of how Jesus died. I would say the catholic prayers, looking up occasionally to see the cross and Jesus, bloody, hanging on it.
Well, after attending the young adult bible study and reading the bible myself, I learned that there was more to Jesus’s story. That him hanging on a cross was only part of it. He didn’t stay dead. He rose. That is what Easter is about, not some chocolate bunny and egg finding holiday. There is a God that is alive. He lives.
Anyway, that is my humble beginning with the faith and 31 years later, I’m frustrated because of social media, I have been feeling compelled to share my faith, to profess my faith and beliefs, but I knew what would come next, I’d be damned if I did and damned if I didn’t. My relationship with God had always been a very personal relationship, so to put it out there where others will judge it or misinterpret it wasn’t worth it for me.
But, now, more recently, I’ve come to peace about my beliefs. In part it came from living in a liberal city where uniqueness is celebrated. Sure, the opposite is also true. Thankfully, I’ve had the opportunity to live in many places across the US. So, I’ve had to think and reflect about who I am and what I stand for continually. So there it is. I follow Jesus. Jesus is the personification of love. So, if he is about all things love, then I need to attempt to be as well by his empowerment.
What a challenge in this world to be about all things love!
But, there is the challenge. The greatest commandment, to love God and to love others as yourself.
In case you never knew, I had desires to adopt a child. I went through the process with visions of providing a home for a needy little human. This never happened…the process got delayed by my lack of finger prints. And the end of that process was the beginning of my temporal insanity days.
Nobody knew my growing obsession with listening for cries as I passed a dumpster. Nobody knew how I swerved in traffic as my eyes scanned the highways for an abandoned child.
Never would I ever dream would come next. I began viewing adoption sites on-line. It’s quite easy to get lost in the faces of children in need. I even scanned the pictures of children of other countries. I even began to learn Russian. In case I could make a connection to a foreign child.
Though I’ve never told many of these desires, they existed. It’s okay now. Those times are over, and I got over my desire. Accepting what I could never have was a private difficulty. No one needed to know my unfulfilled wish. After all, I was blessed with three beautiful, intelligent children who I love dearly.
I put the solo piano station on Pandora in order to progress through the pages of a novel, but instead of words, I envision alternate realities.
I’m a slender ballet dancer alone in the studio, practicing plies on the barre, but I could also just as passionately, be found in the lab, again alone, studying images of the brain in curious exploration.
I’m also an artist at work in the studio, again solo, lifting, smoothing, spreading and blending hues until they return to me colorful arrays.
More often than not, and to some, not as esteemed, the melodies conjure the memories. I’m giving baths, caressing a head, I’m reading while also enjoying the warmth of a small child pressing into my lap and in step with the tempo, I see the trio laughing, skipping, climbing and exploring.