Tagged: prayer

My Kryptonite List

 Photo Credit: mypixbox via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: mypixbox via Compfight cc

{CONTENT WARNING: Strong language and raw subject.}

In my little world, I had a list.  It was a list of things I was convinced I could not do without.  My Kryptonite List contained what would destroy me if it was taken away or was harmed.  The list included people and situations.

Once I was defined by my work.  I sacrificed everything for years before realizing work is a means to an end.  It’s not the means or the meaning for life.  Scratch that from the list.

Church was my end all and be all.  Who I was in the pews or on the platform mattered more than anything.  That is until it didn’t matter as much as marriage, sanity and safety.  Check that one off.

My children were everything.  Identity, self-esteem, self-worth all wrapped up in little wiggly bodies gnoshing on mac-n-cheese.  Until mental illness, insidiously connected to mothering through postpartum depression, taught me I was still a distinct human being from these creatures.  They needed me whole and my job was to help them remain whole.  Check.

My dad was my safety net, my rock, the mirror in which I could peer and see good things every time.  As he took his last shuddering breath, he left my list.

One of the only pieces of kryptonite remaining for me was my husband.  Big, goofy, funny, smarter than anyone, and a good guy, that’s my husband.  He stayed on the list because he chose me.  When we were dating and I went through a dark time, he stuck around and married me anyway.  Postpartum, situational poverty, job loss, death, he was there.  Until now.

A few days ago the kids called me at work and said dad wasn’t moving and was on the stairs.  They were trapped upstairs.  I raced out of the building to find him there, the kid’s terrified eyes staring at me.

I called 911 when he couldn’t make eye contact with me or respond.  I called a friend who is familiar with medical emergencies to get the kids.

His blood sugar was 28.  Normal is 70.  He was minutes from a coma.  The doctor said I saved his life by calling the ambulance.

Three days later, he is still in the hospital.  They have theories on what is wrong, but they can’t confirm anything.  We simply don’t know why his body produces so much insulin that he needs to be on two IVs with glucose to be close to normal.

I’m alone with the kids and I don’t know from day-to-day what will happen.  People keep asking, “How are you?”  I can’t say what I really want to.

I’m pissed off.  Seriously? After EVERYTHING we have been through?

I’m scared.  What will I do to get through the days alone?

I’m sad.  I recently was praying for a breakthrough in our lives.  I got an ambulance.

I literally can’t walk.  How can I heal my ankle when I have to navigate a two-story house and two active little fellas?

My husband is now off my list.   There is nothing left on it.  I need to figure out how to get rid of my Kryptonite list.  I’m thinking I need to replace it with something a little more positive.

Tonight here is where I am starting.

James 1:2-4 (AMP)

Consider it wholly joyful, my brethren, whenever you are enveloped in or encounter trials of any sort or fall into various temptations.

Be assured and understand that the trial and proving of your faith bring out endurance and steadfastness and patience.

But let endurance and steadfastness and patience have full play and do a thorough work, so that you may be [people] perfectly and fully developed [with no defects], lacking in nothing.”

I want to lack in nothing.  I don’t want to stand in the way as these times do their thorough work for my full development.  Though I am angry, sad, scared and most definitely alone and hurting, I refuse for this to be for nothing.

Tonight as I ache at this life which has chosen me, I make a choice.  I’ll take God up on his offer from James 1.  I’ll let this situation do it’s work.  I’ll pray more than I ever have.  I’ll love God more even though I am mad at Him.

Maybe soon I’ll have a different list, one with miracles on it.  Earlier I saw my first entry.  Tonight I stood in the corner and watched my husband with our sons.  Though tired and uncomfortable, he was giggling with them at goofy YouTube videos.   Love and laughter might be the antidote to my kryptonite.

Hospital video giggles.

 

Connections

This video struck me to the heart. Please click on link to see video: Helen Keller and Annie Sullivan

In this journey to eat less, pray more and love abundantly I have become more aware of relationships.  I’ve been exploring and experiencing connections to people and God in new and sometimes painful ways.

Anne Sullivan connects to Helen in a way that is intimate.  She places a hand on her teacher’s face, thus causing Anne’s identity, for the moment, to be inextricably linked with her student.  Anne seems completely at ease with this and an even deeper connection still.  Helen relies on Anne to connect to the broader world through language.  Helen is Anne’s lifeline.

Is this not a symbol for the connections we all need in life?  Between friends, lovers, parents, siblings do we not all long for at least one meaningful connection in life?  Robert Putnam, in his groundbreaking work, “Bowling Alone”, places relationships as the most powerful force to move someone from one stage of sustainability to another.

Is this not what God calls us to do? Luke 10:26-28 in the amplified puts it this way.

“26 Jesus said to him, What is written in the Law? How do you read it?

27 And he replied, You must love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.

28 And Jesus said to him, You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live [enjoy active, blessed, endless life in the kingdom of God].”

From the Message Bible it puts verse 27 this way, 27 He said, “That you love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and muscle and intelligence—and that you love your neighbor as well as you do yourself.”

Anne Sullivan loved Helen Keller with all her passion, prayer, muscle and intelligence.  How do I know?  The connection shows us, as demonstrated in the video.

As I stumble, worn and weary, from one crisis to baseball game to laundry pile to work, I need that same connection.  I need to connect with God in that same way.  I need to love Him with all my passion more than I merely want to survive the moment.  I must connect with Him so that He is my lifeline-so I can communicate with my challenging world the language of love, grace and strength.

We are managing to stumble our way to church this morning.  I’ll be tired, because I always am these days.  However, at some point, in some way, I will reach my hand.  I will place it on the face of the One I love and I will connect.

Will you?  If you do, please share.

Slaying the Martyr

This post contains some rough language.  Reader discretion is advised.

My mother was a professional martyr.  Her specialty? The drive-by.  As we would be leaving, herding children into the car for the long trip home, she would say, “I can’t talk to you next Thursday as I’m having surgery.  They don’t think it’s cancer.  Have a great drive!”

What-the-what?  I, of course, would feed into the emotional blackmail and demand to know what was going on.  I would pour out all my daughterly devotion until I was utterly spent.  To which she would simply reply.  “Of course I’ll take care of myself, no one else will.”

This independence.  This utter conviction of superior strength by virtue of surviving more shit than could fill the darkest Russian novel.  This complete lack of humility all define the heart of the Martyr.  I followed in my Mother’s footsteps and became the Mother of All Martyrs.

After all, death had claimed so many that I loved.  Situational poverty consumed my savings.  I was actually conned into thinking resigning was better than being fired because they would refuse my unemployment.  And my children, oh my poor dear ones, couldn’t read perfectly by age four!

The Martyrs Motto

The Martyrs Motto

This quote I proudly displayed on my FB page.  I even printed it and shared with work colleagues.  I stood tall, chest puffed out-convinced of my own, unique Martyr status.  After all, I had been through so much and was facing so much, surely, God would think I am one of the baddest of the asses.

My fiend who speaks with a prophetic edge which quite simply cuts through the bull quicker than a laser, shared something with me.  Like a dagger to the cold, cold, Martyrs heart, she reminded me of something.  Jesus wants to be the bad-ass FOR ME.

If He didn’t, then what was the point of the cross?  What was the point of having His flesh torn?  What was the point of dying to live again?  He did, so I don’t have to…as much.

I once believed Jesus was magic.  I believed if I just prayed hard enough or loud enough or often enough or decreed enough that I could appropriate my rights as a child of God.  Yep I did.   In looking back to that time, I wonder if Jesus was standing outside the prayer circle trying to get a word in edgewise.

Now I don’t believe in magic.  To be honest I don’t believe in much of anything except my own ability to handle tragedy and misfortune-to be a Martyr.

What if, in the midst of the pain so real it’s a glass sliver piercing my heart, God wants to take some of it from me?  His own Son asked the same questions I have.  “If it is possible for this cup to pass from me, please do.  Nevertheless, not my will but Yours be done.

The Martyr would say “It’s God’s will” with a sigh and a tired look followed by, “but I will get through it, as I always have.”

If Jesus is to be my bad-ass, then I have to say, with all honesty.  “If this cup-this cancer, this pain, this loss, this brokenness as familiar as my fingerprint- will not leave then what is Your will in this situation?  Not my will but Yours be done.”

This cup hasn’t passed from me.  Cancer still eats away the future I have with my father.  Debt eats away at my bank account.  My new job will either catapult me higher or stifle me into submission.  My five year old can’t read.

I won’t even pretend the Martyr has gone off into that good night easily.  Like a zombie with good intentions she refuses to stay dead.  However, she has a new motto.

My New Motto

My New Motto

P.S.  Major points to anyone who can point out which movie inspired the above mentioned motto.

 

2012: The Year of the Chisel

Artist Tony Calderone's hand

Artist Tony Calderone’s hand

For me, 2012 is the year of the chisel. Have a few minutes? Let’s watch this video together.

God’s Chisel by the Skit Guys

I thought it was living in such a small town where my history stalked me in every grocery store aisle and restaurant. CLINK.

I thought it was being convinced I was a triangle peg in the very square holes of my community; be it Starbucks, church, my kids school or Wal-Mart. CLINK.

I thought it was the crushing debt and poverty thinly veiled behind my cheerful smile where 123 Never Enough, Dead End America became my address. CLINK.

I thought it was the hangover from so many crushing losses. The previous two years took so many pieces of my heart, I wondered how it continued to beat. Family, friendships, and dreams all boxed and buried beneath sickness, betrayal and misunderstanding. CLINK.

All these became tools in the hands of the One.  The One who took me seriously when asked, from the filthy floor of a stockroom, to make something of a life worth nothing. His response? He began to chisel.

Lysa Teurkeurst in her book, “Unglued”, talked about this process of chiseling. She writes, in the section “The Unfinished Sculpture”, of the journey of Michelangelo’s sculpture of David.

david

The sculpture was actually begun before Michelangelo was even born! “The 19 foot block of marble had originally been the project of an artist named Agnostino di Duccio, but after shaping some of the legs, feet, and torso, he inexplicably abandoned the work.” Ten years later, another artist was hired to finish it but his contract was cancelled. 25 years after that, a young 26-year-old Michelangelo, “picked up a chisel and dared to believe he could complete a masterpiece.”

For more than two years the artist ate, slept and breathed the sculpture. He literally slept in the same room with the piece of marble. “I saw the angel in the marble,” he said, “and carved until I set him free. When asked how he made such a magnificent statue, Michelangelo said, ‘It is easy. You just chip away at the stone that doesn’t look like David.”

I thought I was a victim of circumstance and poor choice.  God saw an opportunity to chip away at the places which held me captive.  He removed the hard places which don’t look like me-the Me He originally created. He loves me enough to chisel at the stone around my heart, soul and mind.

It’s been painful.  It’s still a work in progress.  However, it’s progress.

Today, this first day of 2013.  I begin it hopeful.  I begin it more free.  I begin it more fully formed, thankful for some of the hard pieces having been chiseled away.  There is oh so much more to be chiseled.  At least, for now, I dare to believe it is to complete a masterpiece.

I pray you too would allow the One who designed you to pick up his chisel and find the Masterpiece inside your life.

When Mother Mode Isn’t Enough

On a break from holiday decorating, I clicked on news headlines.  In Connecticut children died this morning in their classroom.  A mother was shot as was her son, the shooter.  An Administrator was gunned down while giving announcements.  In a school.  On a Friday.  11 days before Christmas.

Between tears all I could breathe was, “Dear Jesus help them.”

My last post was called  Mother Mode .  It dealt with being able to jump in, save the day and overcome all sorts of adversity.  A tragedy such as what is unfolding before us in CT can never be overcome.  Mother Mode and the highest safety standards for public schools wasn’t enough.

Sometimes in the face of inexplicable evil we are not enough.  It’s a fact we seldom consider and never discuss.  This frailty of our human condition.  This life which is governed by autonomic responses (read: automatic with no real explanation why) to even  breathe.  This fleeting existence which, in the span of time to pull a trigger, can be ended.

It should humble us and cause us to recognize our need for a supernatural outpouring.  For the families and community in CT an outpouring of grace, strength and peace.   For those seeking answers and justice an outpouring of wisdom.  For us an outpouring for loving abundantly in every precious moment those we love and who have been given to us to love.

Though I am hundreds of miles away, I want to jump in my car and speed to my little Christian school in the field.  I want to embrace my sons and fold them into myself so that nothing and no one could ever harm them.  I can’t.

Instead, I’ll pray for a supernatural outpouring.  I’ll pray to be more the mother I was created to be and less the mother I think I should be.  I’ll pray they get to live a long and messy and happy life full of adventures.  I’ll pray to set aside the ‘shoulds’ and ‘musts’ and make time to play.  I’ll pray for the other mothers, who will not get to rush to the bus and hug their babies as I will today.

When Mother Mode isn’t enough.  God has to be.  He simply does.

Mommy Mode

The tinkly, brittle crash of glass.  In my retail store, where I work part-time, that spells trouble.  Crash accompanied by a crying child spells disaster.

I ran over a few customers to get there.  A ginormous bell-jar had toppled and splintered all over the middle of the store when a child reached into it.  Thankfully the little girl, all gussied up in her “Go to Santa” photo clothes, was spared any injury.  Only seconds later I was not and ended up dripping blood all over my growing pile of glass.

My co-worker, an amazing Speech Pathology graduate student, said, “You went straight into Mommy-Mode.”  It made me stop picking up shards for a minute to think.

Mommy-Mode = action.  I had to clean up the mess and secure the child.  I didn’t think twice about grabbing jagged daggers of glass to keep the children and other customers from doing so.

Mommy-Mode= comfort.  Days before this incident I found myself wrapped around my 5-year-old.  We were standing in front of the toilet and he was enduring his first bout of stomach flu.  I didn’t hesitate to hug his heaving frame to my chest.  I cheered him on when he was calm.  I changed my shirt and cuddled next to his fevered body the rest of the night.

Mommy-Mode = attention.  While my son slept after being sick in the bathroom, I did not.  I stayed awake for hours.  I watched him sleep.  I kissed his forehead.  I listened to his breathing.  I tucked him again and again.

I can’t help thinking about “Mommy Mode” being a weaker version of what the “Father Mode” is from Heaven.  I forget how often He has chosen to remove the jagged shards of broken soul or shattered dream from my heart.  Too quickly I believe it was I who avoided that accident or screw up at work or other problem which miraculously worked itself out.  My head becomes wearied from holding it up rather than resting it upon the chest of the One whose heartbeat keeps mine going.

Tonight, I’ll ask for Him to go into Father Mode.  And I’ll wait until I feel arms around me and a kiss on my forehead.  Tonight I pray you do too.

Eating Less of the Thanksgiving Goodies

Thanksgiving Goodies

 

Thanksgiving is officially over.  Only half the leftovers remain and I have my eye on them for pocket pies.  The eating frenzy has continued days past the actual holiday.  Today, breakfast was “Grandmother Elkins Caramel Cake”.  Lunch was chips and dip.  Dinner was an amazing Thanksgiving strata (think everything on the plate smushed into layers and casseroled).    Not good for my goal of eating less, not good at all.

I frequently turn to food as my drug of choice, this holiday I was like an alcoholic spending her days in a vat of Jack Daniels.  I, shockingly, found no need to medicate.  I was happy.  I was full.  I was satisfied.

Aside from aching joints and a second trimester belly, I remain disturbingly in good health despite my eating frenzies.  I can be thankful that I still have a chance to right this ship and set her on a course for greener pastures and slimmer silhouettes.

At the blog, The Story Project, Ashley Beaudin, describes how she is building a better relationship with food.    Check it out here: Food and I Have An Ugly Relationship

When I read the blog, for the third time, one line stood out in three-dimensional relief: “I am not going to starve and heart doesn’t need donuts and pop to survive.” I am still dubious on pop not being necessary.  However, the two points remain powerful.

First, I am not going to starve.  Even if all the food suddenly disappeared from my house today, I have enough reserves in my body to last a very, very long time.

Second, my heart doesn’t need junk to survive.  It needs the divine embrace of grace.  It needs to laugh and chase kids.  It needs sleep.  It needs to play and pray with friends.  It does not need donuts.

It’s my relationship with food which is the problem.  It’s my relationship to myself and the role food plays in it which is the real source of the challenges.

As the holidays continue to barrel towards me like an Accela train, I believe I will gift myself something.  I’ll give myself the gift of loving myself more abundantly and praying more so that I can finally-eat less.

What gift will you give your heart this holiday season?