Anxious thoughts

I am feeling the usual out of control Sunday night anxiety. Although it’s Monday night coming off a holiday.

Went camping with Dad and that “side ” of the family- as I am a product of divorce. Sunday we got some terrible news at the campsite. My Grandma, was having a stroke.

My Grandma, is 72 and still drives a semi truck. She’s a tough lady and a feminist by default- as one of the first single mothers of her time. She raised four kids. That takes a whole lot of TOUGH.

She looked at me with tears in her eyes and said, “I was supposed to be in my truck today.”

Her truck- , Jung or some would say- is the symbol of independence- but for my Grandma- it IS her independence.

In the hospital, her words would get jumbled here and there. “Not like Tourette’s” my Dad said, it’s different than that. He looked stressed, his muscles were tense and serious-looking as his eyes stared far beyond the fire.

He only narrowly escaped his own untimely death recently. His own cancer doctor admitted, once in remission, he never thought he would make it.

I recalled, silently, as Grandma tried to  tell me about decorations she had made for her semi. She got four skunks that were playing in the grass. She put the name of each one of her children under each one with the saying, “Little stinkers”.

Because not all of her words would come out quite right, I think it is on her grill but I do not know for sure. It came out “grass” or “glass” as she tried several times to think it through. Happy and proud, she was.

On the way to her room, I realized the way there was too familiar. I had spent days, weeks, months, putting my feet- one in front of the other- to that same place.

My sister in law, had recently spent her last months right across the hall. Sure, she got shuffled, toward the end. But most of her time- was there.

She was 24 years old and my Grandma donated her own burial plot for Tasha just months ago.

24 years old.

And not much age difference from the son my Grandma had buried right next to the plot she’d given Tasha. One of her “little stinkers”.

If you read my blog, you would know that we had another young death in the family within the year before Tasha.

The level of grief is hard to explain.

The depth. The way it penetrates your identity as a person.

The sadness, the anger. The wound that festers.

How do I explain how angry one can be at politicians, at the church, at a world that seems so against humanity, damn it?

How your own flesh and blood can one minute feel like your only resting place and the next minute seem like your sworn enemy.

How your best friend suddenly never calls, stops by…. never sends an email. Disappears.

How people say they worry…. about you.

And you are not sure why because today feels better than yesterday. Anger feels better than depression. Losing religion feels better than having religion.

Unfortunately, most of the people in my close world- my coworkers, have only known me in this state. My own husband has spent much of our marriage a dealing with a woman in a state of grieving.

Trying to come out of that state is not easy. First, there is a whole lot of anger. Second is realizing you’ve been living life on auto pilot.

Then there is the impatience to change.

The desire to be happy, to be light- enlightened.

The desire to live, really live, while being chained to a body that needs food, shelter, clothes. The thought that never stops moving around in my brain- what do you love to do? How can you do it? The thought that is shot down like a balloon from the sky as soon as I look at the “want ads” or job postings.

I remember thinking as a child that any adult should be able to do whatever they want for a job and that should allow them to have whatever groceries or necessities they needed.

If I dare say that as a grown up, I would be accused of being a communist.

Hate being a grown up.

Hate watching people I love leave the earth in a painful crash.

Hate watching people I love suffer at the hands of their body.

In fact, my own failure to tend to my body is causing me my own set of problems.

I want to wake up excited. I want to truly help and serve others with my talents uniquely gifted me by an intelligent universal source of life. I JUST DON’T KNOW HOW. And so many people are fond of telling me what gifts I have and how they don’t understand why I don’t use them. Please….TELL ME MORE. 

So, with all this stuff finally off of my chest- one very special thought came to my mind. It is a quote that Wayne Dyer is fond of quoting.

“And the day came when the risk it took to remain tight inside the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” Anais Nin

 

Where have you been?

It’s been a long time, friends. In fact, I had stopped blogging all together with plans to develop what was already done for a book. But just the other day, I realized, if I’m going through it, other people are too. It’s the law of averages, right?

So if you don’t mind, I’d like to share what’s been truly on my heart this year. After all, a wise woman once told me,”You’re only as sick as your secrets.”

In January, a close friend passed away the day after my birthday. He was an agnostic at best, and that didn’t sit so well with me. It was even worse that in my heart, he was not in some fire laden hell. I watched documentaries about near death experiences and became convinced there was much more to the spirit than what we thought. 

I prayed, as I always have, to feel closer to God. 

And yet, I had little desire to go to church. Let me restate that- I had ZERO desire to go to church. After all of the hate filled believers’ spews on politics, I just couldn’t take it. Let me be clear, the Pastor doesn’t like that either. I said believers, not leaders. I also had a very difficult time because the Pastor’s wife passed away a year ago this month and it was heartbreaking to me and every time I was in the building, it was a constant reminder.

I would watch the sermons live online and listen to Joyce Meyer and Bishop T.D. Jakes through the week. 

They were encouraging and full of love and great teaching. All three were.

Every time I picked up my Bible, I just became utterly upset because I knew that in ancient history, there are similarities and contradictions.

So I would watch documentaries and I’d come to know about other beliefs from the ancient world, yes even older than my beloved Jesus Christ.

And the part I couldn’t fathom was that all of these people that truly love God, would join my friend in hell.

All of this time, my husband had returned to his roots in the Catholic church. I felt I was struggling terribly inside between my heart and my history and all of the things I as finding out daily.

Then a Pastor was on TV and said you can’t look for answers outside the Bible. He said the Bible answers everything you need to know.

And I realized how can we minister to other people in other countries, if we can’t ask them to consider something other than their cultural version of the Bible?

Meanwhile, the American political world was continuing to grow intense and very distrustful and hostile toward the rest of the world.

And religion entwined, I have been told many things in this year ranging from my marriage is illegitimate because it didn’t take place in a Catholic church to I am going to hell if I vote for Obama because of abortion. To make it worse, a very close family member has made similar comments on my beliefs and even offensive comments.

And here I am. I gave my entire life to the church for ten years. I love God with all my heart and I always have. 

So I prayed some more.

And then it happened,

One day I had to stop at a gas station I’ve never been to before. I’m a creature of habit, so that is very rare.

I went inside and for whatever reason, I noticed the gentleman at the counter had a tattoo on his hand. I do not know what country he was from, but his accent suggested somewhere long and far from here. When he handed me my change, I simply pointed that the tattoo.

“What does this mean?” I asked.

He looked at me for a moment.

I said, “It’s okay if you don’t want to tell me,” feeling embarrassed that I might have infringed upon his cultural norm.

He looked out the window and back at me and smiled shyly.

“No, I will tell you. Do you believe in God?”

I said, “Yes,”

and he continued, “What this means is that many people believe in God, in many forms, but it is all the same God.”

I looked at him with joy in my heart. “Is that what you believe in your heart?” I asked and he smiled boldly this time.

“Yes,” he said.

I looked at him and said, “That is what I believe, too.”

But I still couldn’t accept that I believed in this way. It took very long for me to truly admit this aloud, first confessing this outside in the dark one night to my sister in law visiting from England.

In fact, it was only last week that I shared this fight in my soul with my husband.

He embraced me and embraced my heart and thoughts. I felt like a long struggle had been at least slightly lifted from my soul.

This year has laid so many heavy things on us, you see. Over the summer my sister in law, only in her twenties and mothering four children, had a stroke. She cannot talk or walk but after months of treatment, she does laugh when my brother jokes with her.

I’ve personally gained a ton of weight, in part, I believe due to stress and antidepressants.

But this has been an incredible journey.

I have learned to embrace my weaknesses and they are many. I have learned to let my heart follow where God is leading me. I’ve started working out with my husband and eating healthy again.

My work situation has been tense and stressful and has caused me to truly search my heart for my calling. I have learned things I didn’t really know about myself and this has all lead to incredible growth.

My grandma was just diagnosed with cancer and I thank God that in the last year, we have come to know each other better than we have in all my life. On Saturday, my daughter, Grandma and I all fell asleep in her bed watching dateline while I prayed for her health.

You see I love God and I still believe in the many lessons he is teaching me. I believe in Jesus, too. 

But I also believe God is infinite and mysterious and works everything together like a clock- even other cultures, places, and people.

We are all here to learn and we are all here to love.

Thank you for listening to my long rambling soliloquy. I realize you might see me much differently, and not necessarily for the better. But please know that deep inside, all I am saying, 

 

“is give peace a chance….” J.Lennon

God Bless You and I LOVE YOU

Jessica Phiri

Where will you walk to?

For a time, 15 and stubborn, I took to walking. Of course I’ve always loved this- my favorite mode of transportation. But then, I would gather together a friend or two and walk ten miles or so to the town I used to live in.

And there I was a stranger. We didn’t have cell phones. Pagers were there…for drug dealers, I laugh a distant laugh, reminiscing.

We would ride the country roads and tell stories. Sometimes, silent, we could hear the bugs as we softly considered the ponds and fields along the way.

Years later, a close friend in my early twenties, that I happened upon while I was driving late at night in a winter snow, would tell me stories of walking the rails the opposite direction.

We shared a commonality, if you will.

We tipped our hats to independence and appreciation of what we have.

This weekend, has been a truly fond one. I spent a body of time with my ten year old daughter, Madison Grace.

She was named so, because of my conversion during her nine month long traverse from heaven to earth. GRACE, I said, should be her name.

I knew I would leave church only months before finding out I was pregnant, only to come home and burn weed and laugh as I explained the sermon to my friends.

I prayed so hard that God would help me get it straight.

And there I was………soon after, pregnant and ready to quit my hapless deeds.

Almost twelve years later, I can’t believe the transformation of life and spirit and love. I went out with my pretty girl yesterday. I walked and she biked. I was astonished at her young wisdom and complete and total love.

We shared nature with conversation. The oxygen filled my lungs as I listened to her thoughts and thoughtfulness, she has.

And today, again we biked together, with little Anthony riding behind in his little portable tent. She always encouraged. She always showed love.

When I hit a bump or breathed too loudly, she said, “Mom, this is hard for me, too!”

And so I see my reflection. My inspiration…ahhhhh yes, but my reflection, too.

She encouraged and loved and related the way I try to everyday. I try to love others and let them know, I have been there.

On the way home, I lamented with my child. I said I wish people could automatically know their purpose.

She said, simply, “Yours is easy. You are supposed to write. Write about how you had me so young and found God and how you have done so well.”

Ahhhh. If that kid only knew. I love her to the ends of the earth and back.

For those who are struggling, walk brightly into the night or into the light. You will find your way as long as God’s light is leading you through.

God Bless You and I love you!

I still remember watching this in my friends apartment on top of an old store.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&v=GLvohMXgcBo&NR=1

 

Like a child!

Years ago, I was standing in a five and dime and my little neighbor girl found me in an aisle. “Look!,” she said, proudly. “Cooooooookies!!!!!!!!”

I laughed with delight to think of the simple happiness of those cookies to that little girl. I conversely thought of how it would look if a grown woman did that!

The thought makes me laugh to this day.

I have a good friend at work, Laura, who is one of those people that you can just be yourself with. I have noticed, very often, that joy and “flow” when talking to her that makes you feel like two kids being silly together. We laugh so hard and so loud and so snortiliingly out of control at times, that we’ve been shushed by many departments at the school. It’s very freeing to know you can be you and not feel torn to shreds for every crazy thing you do.

I was thinking about it a few days ago and had the idea that the secret to life was remaining a child at heart while maintaining your adult responsibilities.

As I pondered this again on the way to work this morning, an interesting thing happened. I began to envision each person on their morning commute as a child! I saw a lady in pigtails and young boy with a buzz cut; each at the wheel of their car on their way to work.

What a thought!

If we considered that each of us were truly that child, how very differently we would treat one another.

We would have patience and understanding. We would think about why that person was throwing a grown up tantrum or why that person kept reaching for their bottle.

And that is when the words came to me. Jesus said we must become as little children………

I’ve really never thought of it from that viewpoint, but what a beautiful one it is. As my day progressed, I thought of each person as a child. A child who feels that the world is not under his or her control. A child who wants approval and love. A child who feels he does not know a thing but must as act as though he does.

How gently the day was and how quickly it went by. I felt there were so many to love and so many to help and so many to try to understand.

I am a child.

I am a child of God.

Are you?

This blog is dedicated to all those wounded by the shooting at the Sikh temple. I have very good friends of the Sikh faith and they would never, ever harm me because of Christ.

God Bless You and I love you!

Luke 18:15-17
The Little Children and Jesus ] People were also bringing babies to Jesus for him to place his hands on them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the littlechildren come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”
Luke 18:14-18

Billy Blanks, the prophet, haha!

When  I was going through a divorce, eons ago, I was determined to lose weight. “That’s just not me!” I would say as I walked, prayed and Tae-Bo’d my way to fitness. I felt like I was starting a whole new life. Indeed, I was. I worked out, raised my two year old and lost loads of weight. Most of all, I wore out my Bible like a beloved blankie.

My soul was in a sacred place- God’s emergency room, so to speak. I loved my routine. Wake up, read the Bible, drink French Vanilla coffee. I would then work out and watch Martha Stewart! After my morning routine, I went to work at the little church daycare down the road.

I remember the first time I did the work out, even my palms were sweating! But this thing kept me going: at the end of every video, Billy Blanks would look at the screen and say, “Believe in yourself. If you believe in yourself, you can do anything.”

And I sure as heck believed him!

The sad thing is, eight years later, I’ve gained that weight. I look back over the last few years and realize I lost track of both Billy Blank’s and God’s message: “Anything is possible for him who believes.” It is a partnership between us and God that truly propels us to not only greatness, but helping others who need us.

You’ve been through it. So have I. What we don’t realize when we are in the midst of the flames, is that one day we will grab someone’s hand and grab them out- because we have been there.

I write this because, I believe in you and I am ready to believe in God to do miraculous things for all of us.

That’s why we are here. We are each his flowers.

Oh, and, one of my favorite memories in my life, is my sister Rachel saying that she hopes she meets Billy Blanks one day, and that he is wearing blue spandex!!!!

Life is eternal. These things/struggles/fears we are living through, we are actually passing through. As my Mom used to say when I would skin my knees, “You’ll live.”

God Bless You and I love you!

Good People

Soon I will say goodbye to the daily involvement of someone who means the world to me. She is a mentor, a friend, and a prayer warrior. It will be so hard to let go of seeing her smile everyday, and having that soft place to land.

I am so thankful for the people God has placed in my life. Naturally, there are too many to name.

As I look back, it’s truly amazing the good people God has surrounded me with. People who shared their lives with me. People who made me strong and never even knew it.

People who stood beside me and told me again and again, “You’re doing great. Keep on going.”

Teachers, coworkers, friends, family. I am truly blessed.

I believe we are all connected. We all move each other and teach each other. But the most important thing is that we love each other- even the bad eggs. Bad eggs and spoiled milk are blessing too- for they teach us what to avoid and help us appreciate good when we see it.

You are blessed and you bless me.

God bless you and I love you.

 

Listen to your heart

One of my favorite singers has a line where he proclaims, “Follow your heart and you won’t get lost.” One day, as my critical thinking was ramping into overtime, I asked my daughter if she agreed with that statement.

“No,” she said.

I asked, “Why not?”

She answered, “If your heart is wrong, it will lead you in the wrong direction.”

I think the idea that we are lost or have gone down the wrong path, too often dulls us to the faint drum beat of our truth, our heart.

My first marriage was a mess. Codependency, abuse and all manner of psychological and sociological issues waged war. I felt discouraged and defeated. I felt like a failure.

Years later, I married again. This has been a path of commitment and dedication and love. For all of my previous failure, God has used that experience to correct me and grow me and change me. I was afraid to marry again. I was afraid I would mess it all up. I was afraid to trust my heart.

Recently, someone I care deeply for, has gone through multiple traumas. This is the second person close to me to lose someone so close, it is as if she has lost her own breath.

It wounds me to see. It pains me to not be able to fix it. All of my mothering instincts go into overdrive as I try to check on her daily. As I pray for her and my heart hurts indescribably.

All of this pain and turmoil, at one time, would have thrown me into a state of confusion. My heart would’ve made me feel lost.

As I steady myself, standing on the rock of God’s love, for once I see myself. I hear my heart.

It tells me, with each soft beat, “You. Were. Meant. To. LOVE.”

It repeats this refrain over and over and over.

We get so caught up in details and goals and bills and “have-to’s” that we lose sight of the truth and we no longer hear the testimony of our life-giving muscle.

God created us each one in his likeness and HE IS LOVE.

If you stumble, if you fall, if you get off track- know that you are meant to love.

Listen to your heart. Follow it. God made it to guide you. It is your compass.

God Bless You and I love you!

Psalm 37:4
Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desiresof your heart.