Learning to breathe in the darkness

I dreamed I was drowning in a dark, dark ocean.
Desperate for air, 
I looked every direction for light to lead me to the surface.
There was none. 
I surrendered to the depths, 
gasping in the water only to discover I could breathe.
It was as if I had grown gills like a fish, 
adapted to my circumstances.
Weightless and free in the water, 
I flipped and swam and breathed in the darkness.
Soon the glow of the moon filled the water,
but I no longer needed to swim to the surface.
I had learned to breathe in the darkness.
And so I swam on.  

Lobotomy, yes please.

She said, rest and I don't just mean physical rest.  I mean mental rest.

I said, what?  

She said, mental rest. You know, where you turn off your mind, delegate work and don't carry others burdens. 

I said, damn.  I think I may need a lobotomy.

She didn't laugh.  Which was odd because I thought it was pretty clever.  

Seriously people, my tribe....how does this happen?  Turn off my mind?  I thought only men can do this.  No offence to men, but truly I have no frame of reference for this.  No on/off button for my brain...trust me if I did my husband would have been using it late at night when I just had one more question.  

So tonight as I lay in bed and think of my friends poop problem, finances(mine and everyone elses), ebola,  a mother who will spend her first night without her 6th grade son, how much I love my boys and why they don't want to spend every waking moment with me, how can I possibly learn to mentally rest when I am a chronic mental workaholic, I wish I could flip the off switch.  Rewind to simpler times, before the world fell apart.  Before I knew this pain and struggle.  

Instead I will pray for all those things and more, shake my foot and count backward from a hundred, flip my pillow over and over and sigh loudly even though no one is here to hear me.  I will eventually drift off to dreamland after a long and torturous recounting of all things dreary and a mantra of "I trust you Jesus" meant to combat the fear nagging at my brain like a swarm of bees.  Bzzz bzzzzz bzzzz

Tomorrow I will wake up and begin the hard work of over analyzing how to rest....mental gymnastics until finally I will remember that I can't keep striving.  That rest comes through surrender.

Aaahhhaaa I think I may have sweet sleep tonight after all, just as soon as I finish praying. 

Thanks for listening friends, it helps.


Suck it up, buttercup!

Family Reunion 

I just spent a few days with my Mother and Sisters.  It is like a little slice of heaven to be with people you love, don't you think?    We were rejoicing and talking way too much.  I was relieved my husband wasn't there, all the talking would have worn him out.  We went to see my Grandmother, legally blind but still as smart as  anyone I know.  Smarter than most, actually.  She held the baby, the youngest and she is the oldest.  Here was this picture of the cycle of life.  The new beginnings and the lingering days gone bye.  The beautiful baby to be celebrated as we gibber-gabber cute baby talk to her and the oldest of our tribe whom we honor as she holds court with all of us gathered around her. We celebrate them both.

This is life.  The joy of birth and the sorrow of loss.  All of us journey onward, each growing older by the day.  My Grandmother said she loved having all her descendants with her the last time we had been together.  That time, that family reunion had been for her ninetieth Birthday.  Justin had been there.  It was the last time we had literally all been together, my Sisters, my Mother, my children and the extended family.  Behind the laughter of that moment there were tears welling.  We would never all be here at my Grandmothers house together again, there will always be someone missing.

I could see him in the shadows of the room, I could remember him sitting on the couch at my Grandmothers house.  I wanted to lay down on the couch and feel him there, to get a scent of him, to hear his laughter, to touch him one last time, but like a shadow he was just out of my grasp.  I looked around the room at all the happy faces and wonder what they can remember.  I want to pick their brains, comb through their memories and beg them to tell me happy stories.  I am wracked with questions that will never be answered.  Did I tell him I loved him enough on that trip?  Could I have done something then that would have changed things?

Behind the laughter are the tears.  They are always there, floating around like clouds in the sky just waiting for the opportunity to bring a downpour.  Looking for the perfect storm to make themselves known. They help sometimes, to release the pain somehow, but sometimes they just drag others into the tornado.  And so I try to hold them back along with all the unanswerable questions in hopes of sparing someone else the pain.  Like Ebola tears can be contagious, sharing them can bring others into my realm of pain and quite frankly people are tired of being sad. I am tired of being sad. 

None of us would choose to experience this loss, this pain and yet here it is.  A daily companion, an unwanted visitor along the journey.  I can laugh, it is not fake.  I have found a way to enjoy life even celebrate life because of hope.  I say, I love you more often, I hug tighter, I don't waste time on those that don't have compassion or love for me, I celebrate small things, I work hard for the Kingdom, I listen for the still small voice that brings hope into my situation, I adore young people for their simplicity and I love better than I ever have.

I am left with the simple truth, there is no changing it now.  I wrap myself up in the hope of heaven, in the love of a family that chooses to keep laughing.  Their laughter rings in my ears, my grandmothers whisper of love quiets my spirit.  We all long to change the past, but in truth none of us can.  We can only change today.  We can choose to love deeper, to voice it more, to intentionally live in joy even knowing all our days are numbered.  We are all on a slow walk to a glorious reunion.  We will get there, some sooner than others. Not trying to be a downer but it is true...we are all dying.

In the meantime, I am determined to love others well, to laugh often, to share Jesus, to create an atmosphere of honor, to help others on the same journey, to teach well and to lay down my life for the one who rescued my son from this world(Isaiah 57:1).

As my Mother so eloquently says, suck it up butter cup.  So I choose to suck it up and laugh and smile because there is always something to celebrate, someone to celebrate, something to be thankful for,  and when I suck it up I really do feel better.  The one foot in front of the other mantra really does work.  So I journey on, and when the storm clouds start to role in my head.....I whisper quietly, suck it up buttercup and a genuine smile fills my face.

What I learned from the stomach bug or food poisining (whatever)...

So I guess there is something to be learned in everything....My kids say I make everything into a spiritual discussion so here I am proving their point.  Even poop and vomit can be spiritualized.  

It started around one in the morning on a Friday night.  Excruciating pain in my stomach and in my back.  I could feel something moving through me that for sure was not meant to be there....in my mind I could see the tiny little bugs twirling around in my intestines, an unwanted army of guest. Okay maybe that was because I was in and out of dreamland.  By four in the morning it was game on, if you know what I mean.  By one pm Saturday I pulled myself out of bed and binge watched television in between runs to the bathroom(no play on words intended).  By Saturday night my body was stiff and sore from sitting around so much. By Sunday morning most symptoms were gone but I was left weak and with a somewhat flatter stomach.  Which to my chagrin I was pleased with, maybe there is an upside to this misery.  

So here is what I learned as I stared at the ceiling wishing for all things to stop:

1.  What goes in must come out, sometimes faster and more violently than you can imagine.  Isn't that true spiritually.  What we feed ourselves spiritually will come out.  Feed yourself the goodness of God and it will come out, feed yourself the vileness of this world and it too will come out.  I think you get the picture...eat the good stuff people.  

2.  There are some things that just don't belong in us.  It is not always going to be easy to get those things out of our lives.  Sometimes it is with great pain that relationships are ended, sin is exposed or unhealthy patterns are broken.  Just like that stinky little bug didn't belong in me there are other things that don't belong in me.  Around six weeks ago it became apparent to me that I had become dependent on sleep-aids(who could blame me).  Not hard to imagine how that happens, you can't sleep once you think no problem and pop a pill.  Then before you know it, you can't get to sleep without them.  The cycle of addiction is the same for almost everyone.  Those pills didn't belong in me, but breaking that habit was brutal.  I don't want to lay in bed thinking, I think way too much already.  However, I did it.  I did it and each night it became easier and easier.  I'm not cured, I still would like to take a pill that makes life easier. Not that I am knocking it if someone needs medication to balance themselves out under a doctors supervision(I take bio identical hormones and believe me you should be glad).  I am just saying that for me living life with no physical-sleep aids makes me depend on Christ even more.  There is no substitute for the power of Christ, there are shortcuts that never really get you anywhere.  You just simply go in circles.....but it is only the power of Christ that can give you peace when you can't sleep, get you out of a bad relationship, demolish selfish prideful thinking, break a terrible pattern or set you free from stinking thinking. Because none of those things belong in us, to us or with us.

3.  At four in the morning, I was begging God to make it stop.  Being sick hasn't been the only time I have prayed that.  It didn't stop, but what I did know was that it would.  I knew that in twelve to twenty four hours it would be over.  There would be an end to the suffering.  This is true in everything, there will be an end to the suffering.  I will get through this valley, sorrow will be replaced with rejoicing.  Think it not strange that in this world you shall have tribulation.....Yay, that is just awesome(she said with total sarcasm).  Then there is this part...but take heart I have overcome the world.  There is an overcoming, coming!  There is an end in sight, joy comes in the morning. Sometimes the morning feels like an eternity(here's to hoping I don't have to wait for eternity) but if I will steward the suffering well, He will turn my misery into a message that will build the Kingdom and rob from hell!  Big aaahh-haaaaa moment.

4.  On the tail end of this stomach thing...I started thinking about my weight.  Some of you that know my history might think this a bad thing, or you may just think I am vain (good news, I don't care what you think, for the most part).  Anyways...in the rabbit whole of my thinking I started thinking about my weight and maybe I was losing tons and tons of weight and wouldn't that be great.  Then that made me think about how that was my "normal".  Maybe life is returning to a more normal, normal.  Then that made me think about how I don't want to return to my old normal, not that I really could.  Just that after all that has happened some normal is nice but too much normal would be sickening.  I can't go back, things will never be the same.  That's just fine.  I am a different person and while I still may worry about my weight it won't ever control my joy or my destiny because my life has been shaped by disaster.  What once seemed important now seems trivial and I don't want to lose that perspective.  Love is what matters, it is what last.  My weight is just a number, but I would like it to stay in the normal range.  I guess I am not totally cured yet, hey even Paul had a problem for life. No body's perfect.

5.  Recovery is sometimes slow.  Twelve hours came and went and I was still sick.  I am a busybody.  Sitting still is hard, watching television makes me stiff and sore.  Laying in bed makes me sad and blue.  Staying busy keeps me at peace.  I set goals in my mind for recovery from this stomach bug and from grief and neither worked out.  Recovery goes at it's own speed, no time limits.  I have no control over how quickly I recover, I can't white knuckle it and make my body quit having issues anymore than I can make myself quit feeling sad.  I can manage the symptoms by eating the soft, gentle foods you are supposed to eat after being sick and not drinking coffee on an empty stomach(learned that the hard way) but I can't force the recovery.  I have to be along for the ride, be gentle, not rush it.  Recovery is an interesting word.  To recover what was lost.  Whether a stomach bug, food poisoning or a life altering loss, recovery takes time and it's a process.  Be gentle to yourself and be gentle to others who are recovering.

So that's it friends.  That's what I learned, maybe seems silly but I just like to redeem the times with some good thinking instead of stinking thinking.  Oh yeah and by the way....this is how I think...in numbered points.  I know I am so weird, but aren't we all a bit weird and peculiar?  The misfits and the broken, sojourning through this world where we don't belong.  

Keep the heavenly perspective friends, we are just passing through.  Let's take as many along with us as possible to heaven.  Make each day count.  

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