I’ve Been Lucky

We use to have a little gathering place in Oklahoma City called the Jesus Lighthouse.  It was somewhere around MacArthur and NW 16th and was a place where live music and some food were mixed together so that kids could gather safely and socialize.  I had a couple of favorite groups but the overwhelming favorite was “Heartsong.”  I suppose that the cuteness factor of the lead singer was part of my attraction.  Anyway, they talked about the difference between being lucky and being blessed.  I’ll leave the argument up to you.

I am in the middle of a week of remembrance.  I have been walking closely with Jesus for 20 years this week.  For some in my world, twenty is a long-past marker.  Many of my contemporaries never walked the path of the religiously rebellious and deceived.  I was SO deceived that I could not see the error of my ways.  Anyway, it was during this week 20 years ago that I turned toward the Lord and, under His leadership, began to make a list of every transgression that was unconfessed and unforgiven in my life.  It really was the leadership of the Holy Spirit.  I could have never, never, never (under my own self-examination) seen the truth of what I was walking.  The list was huge and horrible.  In the process I began to fear that had never walked an honest and clean day in my life.

A more mature sister in the Lord heard my confessions before the Lord later that week.  It must have been grueling.  They had been gone ministering that week and she graciously sat with me after a taxing week of her own.  I brought it all into the light.  ALL OF IT!  The Holy Spirit revealed my compromise and self-deception as well as the deeper roots of my strongly-held misbeliefs.  The process was terrifying and I had no assurance that there would be even one thing different when I was done.

Grueling task done, I felt no different.  In fact, I felt a little heavy and a little afraid.

I was certain that I meant what I said.  “Jesus, I cannot help myself; I need you to help me!”

And, He did.

SHE broke up with me.  Holy Spirit began the examination and began the cleaning process.  The first tentative steps were taken on that broad highway spoken of in Isaiah 35:

8 And a highway shall be there,
and it shall be called the Way of Holiness;
the unclean shall not pass over it.
It shall belong to those who walk on the way;
even if they are fools, they shall not go astray.
9 No lion shall be there,
nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it;
they shall not be found there,
but the redeemed shall walk there.
10 And the ransomed of the Lord shall return
and come to Zion with singing;
everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;
they shall obtain gladness and joy,
and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

It felt like luck that I escaped.  It seemed that I was in the right place at the right time and that I had somehow fallen through an escape-hatch and gotten away.  Whew!

Holy Spirit led me in a new direction.  He took me in the direction of obtaining a clear conscience.  So then, for me it was not to be enough that I confessed to the Lord and another.  God was leading me to make some things right with people I had harmed.

Whoa!  That is a biggie!  Even in the current days when I share this part of my testimony I have sincere, well-meaning Christians confront me about this.  “Past is past,” they’ll say.  “It was all under the blood,” they exclaim!  Like I said, it was the LORD’S leadership that took me there.  And, it is biblical!  Those confessions to the ones I had wronged led me into some difficult places.  I had to deal with the pain and betrayal they felt as they learned of how I had sinned against them.  It was difficult.  It ended a few relationships.  It altered others.  It cost me money.  It cost me trust.  It taught me the gravity of my selfish acts.  (In this decade this is a strange revelation.  We are living in the belief that one can do whatever one wants and it affects only oneself. )  I had to confront the fact that MY SIN hurt many people.  I tell you what, I did a whole lot of repenting and making-right for a long, long time.

So, here I am in the anniversary week and today I got a phone call.  The woman on the other end asked me a direct question (more like a statement really).  It was basically this: Did you also sin against us?  I answered slowly, “No. I did not sin against you in this way.”  Then, more directly, she asked again: Did you sin against us because I know you also sinned against others.

Ow.  That hurt.

I felt my mind begin to spin and my heart was racing.

Ow!

I was trying to listen but I was quickly feeling fear take over.  “NO!,” I screamed in my head.  “No.  I sinned against many but you were not among them.”  However, I spoke differently and asked, “What has happened?”

She recounted a bit of their story and I felt helpless and heartbroken….and accused.

Probably whatever I said has satisfied her.  I was tempted to defend myself but didn’t.

The fact remains that what she was asking wasn’t at all far-fetched.  I could have done something like what she was asking.  I just didn’t.

My response and feelings today were truly familiar.  It was shame that got me, plain and simple.  It nailed me good.  “Happy Anniversary to you!,” the Accuser of the brethren said.

My cousin blogged about “shame” recently in her blog  and posted a beautiful song by Charlie Hall.  Here it is for you to enjoy.

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Random Musings at 1:22 a.m.

Here we go.  How do I break my effortless silence?  I’ve spent the best past of 2009 thinking along very narrow lines–lines which lead to some sense of survival for the three people in my home.  I am tired.  I don’t think I’m tired because I’m sick and tired.  (You know the “tired” THAT is, don’t you?  It is the kind of tired that says “screw it” a lot because it can’t think of anything else to say.  I’m not THAT kind of tired today.)

No, I am the kind of tired that is bone tired.  I live in a very emotionally demanding and physically demanding existence.  There is no true solitude.   The carefully cultivated means by which I could refresh myself have been difficult to access.  Talk time is limited.  Creative time lacks breath and life.  I find that it is much easier to play than to think.  It is much easier to be idle than to act.

I feel as though I am “winging it” every single day of my life.

I find it difficult to be “intentional” for myself because the energy is completely used up for others.  (Please don’t take that as some noble thing.  It is, in fact, without boundary and it is the stuff that made me emotionally unwell so long ago.)  This is different however.  I do know how to change it.  I know how to reach out.  I know how.  Now, I must do it.

I said this was a “random musings” post.

The character of Patrick Jane is cute (and a little arrogant) and Simon Baker is a sight to behold.

I don’t like candy corn.

It turns out that Mrs. C. might not have accurately labeled me when she said I just didn’t have the “gift” for baking.  (A lie.  I have labored under a lie since 1988.  I now reject that lie.)

There really is more to do that I can get done and more to do that I want to do.

I miss having free, unencumbered time.

I would have rather NOT sold my mother’s car because it looked cool and I could just plug in the iPod and play.

I will live. : )

I was thinking again this morning about my choice to take on this task of loving my mother in a very practical and in a very unrelenting routine.  I don’t regret it (now, one year later) but know I haven’t found the bottom of the expectation and demand that it will bring.  Her physical, spiritual and emotional needs are real and at our mercy.  If anything good will come to her, we are the door.  (Yes, I know that Jesus can do things for her but THAT is not what I mean.)

I’ve had about a month of re-counting the cost.  We are signing on again.  It is my heart that still needs adjustments.

Is this random enough?

Your Thoughts Wanted

Years ago I read the following from Joni Erickson Tada’s book, “A Step Further.”

It’s a kind of scale, I finally reasoned. Every person alive fits somewhere onto a scale of suffering that ranges from little to much.

And it’s true. Wherever we happen to be on that scale-that is, however much suffering we have to endure-there are always those below us who suffer less, and those above who suffer more. The problem is we usually like to compare ourselves only with those who suffer less. That way we can pity ourselves and pretend we’re at the top of the scale. But when we face reality and stand beside those who suffer more, our purple-heart medals don’t shine so brightly.

Along these same lines I’ve been thinking about what we call the sovereignty of God.  In the face of suffering people talk about the sovereignty of God quite a bit.  “It must have been God’s will,” we say.  As I worked through the miscarriages, the loss of friendships and the death of a mother-in-law I wondered, I trusted and I prayed.  “Was this YOUR will, Father?”  I also muse that in the face of suffering we do not talk much of the goodness of God.   It is as though God’s sovereign-ness deals a hard blow to life.  God’s goodness brings only joy and good feelings.  What if both of these simplistic ideas area not true and a reflection of how we deal with ourselves and others as we move along the “scale of suffering” that Joni talks about?

25 Interesting Things About Me

Rules: Once you’ve been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. If I tagged you, it’s because I want to know more about you.

  1. I am completing this exercise because I am curious about what I would find to write.
  2. I randomly lied that I had gone white water rafting on the Snake River while I was an Explorer Scout.  I was neither an Explorer Scout nor a rafting veteran.  I persisted with this lie from 1975 until 1991.
  3. The first song I really learned to play on the guitar was “I’ve Been Working On The Railroad.” The second was “House of the Rising Sun.”
  4. I was NOT the safe kid for parents to  let their kid hang out with.
  5. Parents always let their kids hang out with me.
  6. My best friend when I was in 1st grade pooped in my backyard.  I was both weirded out and fascinatd by that.
  7. It took me into my adult life to work through the terror I experienced at the threats of two boys on my block.
  8. I generally always understand, comprehend and appreciate humor even if it isn’t humorous to me.
  9. Background music is distracting to me because it doesn’t stay in the background.  I hear it.  It makes me listen.  They should call it foreground music for people like me.
  10. There are stores I cannot shop in because of their background music.
  11. I have a hard time finding shoes that feel well on so my shoe wardrobe always suffers.
  12. I am never bored and do not use that word to describe any feeling that I have.
  13. The only obstacle to the love of cooking for me is the clean-up.
  14. I am fascinated by the varieties of illustrations in children’s literature.
  15. I can’t think of any place I wouldn’t like to visit.
  16. My husband wouldn’t like to visit most of them.
  17. I have battled a sense of homelessness for my entire adult life with a small reprieve in the first few years of marriage.   But, it’s back now.  It is generally inexplicable except that I haven’t had “family” in most places I’ve lived in my adult life.
  18. I have envied (yes, envied) my double-jointed friends.
  19. I am a good whistler.  I can whistle complicated things and simple things but I cannot do that really loud, call-your-friends-from-across-the-parking lot-kind-of-whistle, whistle.
  20. My 7th grade fantasy was to make a brown pantsuit with bead work on the back and a leather, beaded headband and to sing some important, really great song in the school talent show.
  21. My fantasy car (the one I wanted when I became successful) no longer exists because THAT brand of car has  really boring styling and my fantasy car must be new.
  22. People are SO used to my willingness to share with openness that I often am confronted when I elect to keep certain things private for a time.  That is weird.
  23. I could make an afternoon of watching “Smart Travels w/ Rudy Maxa,” “Rick Steve’s Europe,” and “Lawrence Welk.”  So, sue me!  🙂
  24. Driving is my favorite way to relax.
  25. I don’t want to lose what I worked hard to gain for 19 years.  (No, I am not talking about “stuff.”)

Thanksgiving 2

I’ve seen another version of this with a funny (but unnecessary 2nd punch line).  This version is funny on its own.  If this particular incident happened to you and I have broken confidentiality (j/k), I apologize.

One year at Thanksgiving, my mom went to my sister's house for the traditional feast. Knowing how gullible my sister is, my mom decided to play a trick. She told my sister that she needed something from the store. When my sister left, my mom took the turkey out of the oven. She removed the stuffing, stuffed a Cornish hen, inserted it into the turkey, and re-stuffed the turkey. She then placed the bird(s) back in the oven.

When it was time for dinner, my sister pulled the turkey out of the oven and proceeded to remove the stuffing. When her serving spoon hit something, she reached in and pulled out the little bird.

With a look of total shock on her face, my mother exclaimed, "Patricia, You've cooked a pregnant bird!"

At the reality of this horrifying news, my sister started to cry. It took the family two hours to convince her that turkeys lay eggs!

Thanksgiving 1

I simply cannot continue to NOT post.  So, with apologies to the ASPCA and thanks to email humor, I offer this:

The Parrot

A young man named John received a parrot as A gift. The parrot had a bad attitude and an even worse vocabulary. Every word out of the Bird’s’ mouth was rude, obnoxious and laced with profanity.

John tried and tried to change the bird’s attitude by consistently saying only polite words, playing soft music and anything else he could think of to “clean up” the bird’s vocabulary.

Finally, John was fed up and he yelled at the parrot. The parrot yelled back. John shook the parrot and the parrot got angrier and even more rude. John, in desperation, threw up his hand, grabbed the bird and put    him in the freezer. For a few minutes the parrot squawked and kicked and screamed.

Then suddenly there was total quiet.  Not A peep was heard for over a minute.

Fearing that he’d hurt the parrot, John quickly opened the door to the Freezer.  The parrot calmly stepped out onto John’s outstretched arms and said, “I believe I may have offended you with my rude language and actions.  I’m sincerely remorseful for my inappropriate transgressions and I fully intend to do everything I can to correct my rude and unforgivable behavior.”

John was stunned at the change in the bird’s attitude.  As he was about to ask the parrot what had made such a dramatic change in his behavior, when the bird continued, “May I ask what the turkey did?”

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Testing…Testing…Is This Thing On?

Whoa!  I need some sympathy here.  (Sympathy…not pity, okay?)

On September 28th my step-father passed away suddenly.  I got the call around 4:30 while I was out with a friend celebrating her birthday.  Neighbors of my folks were calling and trying to reach me!  I hadn’t heard my phone in the noisy room where I was playing. Neither had I heard the phone when I was out on the mini golf course.  The neighbors reached my husband and he called the gal I was with.

Handsome and I rushed to my mother’s side, took care of her needs and I left Mom with Handsome and I went to the hospital to be with my step-pop.  I arrived while the emergency room staff was working hard to save his life.  By the time I arrived they had diagnosed the source of the problem.  He had an abdominal aortic aneurysm which had ruptured and he was in very grave danger.  A few moments later he was taken to surgery where they sealed off the bleeding but he was not able to be revived.  He died on the table…and the life of my family changed.

I am a chick who is in full-time ministry primarily to Christians who are looking for help to change unwanted relationships and behaviors.  This activity of serving is what I have defined as my “calling” for a very long time.  In a similar way, I have also had something of an “identity” attached to what I do.  (Hey men, that isn’t always just a man-thing.)

My step-father has been both the lover and full-time caregiver of my mother whose disability truly is dis-ability.  She is unable to do for herself at all.  So, what is to be done must be done for her.

The same evening that S/Pop died everyone began to ask, “What’s going to happen with your mother?”  “What are you going to do?”

Good question.  Stupid question, really, but I understood that they were concerned.  It’s just that I was en route to my Mom’s house to tell her that her husband had died and I ONLY knew what I would be doing that night.

So, it is has 3-weeks.

I asked the LORD the other day if He had something to tell me regarding the decisions our family faces.  Within a few moments several things came to mind.  I think He was speaking.

“Pure, unstained religion, according to God our Father, is to take care of orphans and widows when they suffer and to remain uncorrupted by this world.” (James 1:27)

I’m also reminded here that the Isaiah 58 discussion of the fasting the LORD delights in is the pouring out of charity (love) rather than some sort of self-abasement.  In 58:7 it speaks:

7 Share your food with hungry people.
Provide homeless people with a place to stay.
Give naked people clothes to wear.
Provide for the needs of your own family. (NIV Reader’s Version)

Or,

7Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house–when you see the naked, that you cover him, and that you hide not yourself from [the needs of] your own flesh and blood? (Amplified Bible)

Or,

7 Share your food with the hungry,
and give shelter to the homeless.
Give clothes to those who need them,
and do not hide from relatives who need your help. (New Living Translation)

These ideas blow my mind.  First, I think that Isaiah’s discussion is mainly that the outworking of true “religion” is to live it among the most helpless who have nothing in defense of their own interests.  However, the fact that it actually says to not hide yourself from your own flesh (or, flesh and blood in some) it seems to speak directly to my situation.

So many goodhearted folks have said that nobody would expect me to “give up [my] life and just take care of her.”  Still, it seems totally hypocritical to say, “No, Mom. You get a nursing home because there are so many others who have a need and THEY really need me.”

Truly, three weeks is a short span of time.  I have no idea what the long-term cost to my husband and I will be.  It will mean vacating our home and moving in with Mom.  Then we face decisions about selling or renting.  It means a really big loss of freedom for me on a daily basis and for our marriage and its formerly footloose, newlywed ways.  It means taking on a VERY physical daily routine and dealing with the many physical needs of my mom.  It means a drastic change in my career and what my daily life has been.

As things adjust and I find the resources we all need, I expect I’ll be able to return to some level of ministry outside of the home.  Or, I might find ways to do it from the home.  Until then, I welcome your words and your prayers.

Oh, and it turns out that I like Martha Stewart’s show AND could probably get hooked on All My Children.  (Why did the tornado hit only those starring on the show? I mean, tornadoes are strange, but really!)