Friday, August 31, 2012

ISAIAH 48:18

[OUR LORD SAYS:]

OH, THAT YOU HAD HEARKENED TO
MY COMMANDMENTS!

THEN YOUR PEACE AND PROSPERITY
WOULD HAVE BEEN 
LIKE A F-L-O-W-I-N-G RIVER,


AND YOUR RIGHTEOUSNESS
 LIKE THE




Thursday, August 30, 2012

DAVE'S SWEETNESS

We had been married only a short time, frustration and confusion hitting me often regarding whether I was doing the right thing or not, making right or wrong choices.

The main reason: after a number of years of being the main family worker, the list including jobs and cleaning the house and caring for the kids, my "then" husband was rarely doing anything helpful.  I was worn out and heavily overwhelmed.  Then, while "single momming" for a year, that was filled with even more stress and distress.  ONLY THE LORD pulled me through both of those sections of life, covering about 16 years. 

After marrying my dear man, life changed.  I was a stay-at-home mom and just taking care of the basic needs.  What a treat!  -- At least, for the first few months.

THEN my kids became angrier and angrier.  So typical as teens.  The reason was because I wasn't gone when they came home from Jr. Hi and High School.  I wouldn't let them watch certain programs, call certain people, do certain things.  They could bring friends home with them, but because some of these kids were foul-language-oriented, my entrance comment was "Leave the street mouth outside."  They would just roll their eyes... which annoyed me then and forever ... and usually the friends wouldn't come in.

The "You're a Bad Mom" spirit had been burying in me.

One day Dave had been at the house at noon for a lunch break.  When I entered the kitchen after he had gone, I saw a message on the refrigerator and that truly blessed my heart, immensely, immediately.

He drew it on a piece of old-fashioned typing paper.  Very basic.  But his pen, his drawings, his encouragement turned it into a gold-finished parchment sheet.  Touched my heart then, and has for all these nearly 27 years.



[I was asking the Lord last night what I should pop onto my blog, and He put this picture in my mind.  I've kept it in an album for all these years; it will never go away.  Ever, ever.]

Monday, August 27, 2012

ALONE WITH GOD

I wrote this poem/song 30-ish years ago here in Omaha. One Sunday morning before church the Lord simply laid it on me. -- I love it when He writes and I get to hold the pen! -- I hadn't thought of it for a long time, but with the stress of this past few days, shared in three serious posts, this song hit my heart again. 

The photos were: 1) taken by me as you see my foot draped over a cliff at the North Shore while I was resting in the Lord and rejoicing in His kindness to me, and  2) taken by someone else on my behalf as I was reading the Word and writing a poem and story describing why I was there.  The "there" time was connected to my depression and "run away" stretch to the North Shore in early October, 2001, when the 9/11 event had hit my heart so strongly I needed to seek the Lord's restoration of my soul.

The photos fit the song, precisely, so thought I'd toss them in.
===================================== 


  Sometimes I feel the need
***to slip away and seek God’s face.
To hide myself from everyone —
***to flee life’s mad’ning pace.
To hear my Father speak to me
***To hear His voice of grace —
Sometimes I need to be alone with God.


Sometimes my heart is hungry
***for a glimpse of heaven’s peace.
The burdens seem so heavy —
***the cares of life increase.
But then I reach my hand to God
***and all my sorrows cease —
That’s why I need to be
***alone with God.

Sometimes the day’s so hurried
***and I do not seek my Lord.
I find myself at end of day
***not having read His Word —
To see what He has written me,
***To see His love out-poured —
Sometimes I fail to be alone with God.

Sometimes my Father sees that I’ve
***this need to be alone.
And He seeks me out at night
***when my heart and mind are calm.
And He whispers through my dreams —
***and reminds me I’m His own.
Sometimes I need to have a
*** touch from God.

In all of us we recognize
***this need to be alone.
To close the door unto the world —
***to stand before His throne.
To hear His words of wisdom
***to know that we’re His own.
Sometimes we need to be
***alone with God.

He wants each one of us
***to take the time — and come alone.
To meditate upon His Word —
***to pray before His throne —
To praise His blessed name,
***Or make our petitions known —
Oh, how we need to be alone with God.




Tell Me a Story

Sunday, August 26, 2012

MY PHURBA CRISIS

Just warning you ahead of time:  this is LONG.  And serious. 

At the zoo last year.  A fun and joyful day.
In nearly 2 years, I have been involved with Phurba and his family.  He has been my dear Bhutanese "grandson" and going through so much through his brain tumors and surgery.  As I stated before on other posts, he began to have seizures when he was 8; he is now 26.  He has so welcomed me into his life that I've been highly blessed.  [The rest of his family, too.  Such dear ones!]

For some reason, he has been striking at family members.  I hear it occurred even in Nepal since the seizures began, but no one had told me that until yesterday.  A few weeks ago, he had struck his father and was going at his brothers and the police were contacted by an outside family member and he was taken to a mental area of a hospital, then moved for several days to another one.

He was released and, a few days later, I went to the psychiatrist appointments for him with his brothers and his mom... not as an interpreter, but an "explainer". [When they are asked a question that doesn't seem understandable, I re-speak it, dropped down to a clearer version.]

I had told them that if and when he begins to strike the family members again, they can call me, day or night, and I will rush to them.

Yesterday morning, about 10:40, the phone rang and it was Bijay, Phurba's younger brother.  Bijay began with, "Hello, Grandma.  How are you?"

I said I was a little tired, but that was fine.  And asked what was going on.

He said, "Phurba is hitting us...."

I told him I'd be there in a few minutes and I'd call 911 when I was on my way.  So that's what happened.  First, I called my husband and told him what was up.  THEN I called the police, gave the info and the address.  And, sorry to admit this, for that 3 miles, I DID NOT drive the speed limit through those neighborhoods.

When I reached their place and his dad opened the door, my first sight was that Jamal's undershirt shoulder portion was ripped off.  Phurba was standing across the room with a leather belt wrapped around his hand and wrist to swing it at others and hit them.  As soon as I was in that living room, the Lord laid it on my heart to say to him, firmly and not quietly, over and over, "In the name of Jesus, you sit on the couch."  At first he said, "No." But, as I kept repeating myself, for a fairly short time he sat there, starting several times to jump to his feet and kick and swing, but then sitting back.  I kept in his face as much as possible.  [Took my glasses off and handed them to his aunt just in case I'd be struck; I didn't want them broken.]

Then I went outside to call 911 again, and Sai, his older brother, pointed at the police cars parked down the street.  I ran to the middle of the street and started waving at them and they came forward.  Guess they might not have had the address clearly enough.  I explained the basic situation and, at first, they didn't seem to take it very seriously. WELL, after a few minutes in the house, they seemed to.

When the police were looking around and dealing with the basics, I looked at Phurba's mom, Nima.  She is one of the smiliest people I've ever known, and when I touched her shoulder, she burst into tears.  I just sat on a chair and held her. 

Then the police, after Phurba continued to kick and scream, pushed him to the floor and handcuffed him.  One of the policemen, after a 3rd had arrived to hold Phurba's other arm, started asking more questions and that's when I heard it all.  I almost began crying then.

That morning at 7:00 when his grandparents had come down to the living room and he had been sleeping on the floor [no understood reason for that], and it woke him up, he struck them.  They are about 80 years old.  His grandma a very small lady.  Somehow, Phurba's family woke up and came running down and the fighting continued.  [I have no idea why they waited so long to call, but I think it's because his Mom really didn't want him taken away.] 

After all that time of kicking and hitting and "belting" so many family members [a total of 12 live in that house], the final thing occurred that caused them to call me.  Phurba threatened to kill his 10-month-old niece, Sneha, my "great-granddaughter" that I had helped deliver last October during a very tough pregnancy time.



The police were still holding him in the dining room and he kicked at me [missed me, of course] and Bijay was not far away and would say something and Phurba kept spitting on the carpet and trying to kick Bijay.  Finally, he spit harder at Bijay and the spit hit his face.  THAT'S when the police took him outside to the car and said they would take him to an ER about a mile away and I could bring Bijay and mom so we could give all the info.

While they were taking him past my car, Phurba kicked it and broke the passenger-side tail light cover.  [Both Sai and Bijay, separately, have said that they would pay for the repair.  How sweet to be so automatically giving in the midst of all this intensity.]

We got down to the ER, answered all the police and ER leader and nurse questions.  After nearly an hour, Phurba was sedated.  He will be there for a couple more days, then shifted to another location.  The family is brokenhearted on both sides of the fence.  They love him, but they can't risk him in the family until true healing takes place.

I left messages for the psychiatrists, because they had both told me that if anything happened I should let them know...  Sai and Bijay could, of course, but couldn't be understood as easily with their accent.  If I don't hear back early tomorrow, I'll be bugging the psychiatric folks.

The possibilities aren't good, no matter how this plays out.  But we have to protect the grandparents and the baby.

Now, how am I today?  Intense, tired, heavy-hearted.  Why?  Because, unless things change, I have lost a dear one.  He has loved me and known how much I loved him.  But, after this battle yesterday, unless the Lord heals him inside and out, he will reject me.  The good part?  My sweet family loves me even more, because I came just as I had told them I would if anything serious ever happened.  I was hugged a number of times yesterday.  Thanked often.

So, my friends, who have read about Phurba in the past, and now I've taken a million seconds of your time, just please lift him before our Lord for healing, deliverance, protection.  And I'll answer any questions.

The blessing for me?  It fits into a motto the Lord dropped into my life some years ago:  Right place, right time.

Thanks much for putting up with me.

Friday, August 24, 2012

FIRST RESPONDERS -- SO SAD

Media Reports: Around 8:30PM last night 63 yr old Gilberto Hernandez-Vazquez was found face down in the street. Often seen pushing his Ice-Cream Cart in this neighborhood Gilberto had been shot in the face and died at the hospital a short time later.

==========================================

It is not normal for me to place the media info, such as above, on my posts, but this happened so quickly that this explanation was easier.
 
I said it was "so sad", and it truly was. Not only his death, but the way the neighborhood people were crying and filled with sorrow. One of the children saw him shot and hitting the street. Others had been his "ice cream" friends, both children and adults. Several Hispanic pastors, from a variety of nations and various places in Omaha, arrived. They prayed seriously, sometimes were interpreted, and sometimes weren't, but it sure didn't make any difference. The intensity of their hearts for the sake of Gilberto and the desire that violence be broken was easily understood.
 
I posted recently about being a spiritual "fighter"... and it hit again. I didn't cry, but my heart was filled with their sorrow. I spread my arms around ladies from the neighborhood and laid hands on the heads of the children who had been placed in the circle and prayed over.
 
Gilberto had no family in the U.S., so far as we know. Everyone was in Mexico. Since he was 63 years old it is most likely that he had brothers, sisters, kids, grandkids, etc. I'm sure they will be notified, and how heartbreaking could it not be?
 
We always ask the Lord to reveal the killers... but this time it was extremely focused, because of what happened before the eyes and hearts of the children.
 
Even though it's not recognizable, I'm going to show a photo of one of the crosses. It was made by a child. Wood, cotton on the ends, and a piece of paper tied to the cross with a face drawn and tears falling. That child was filled with sorrow...


 And what did we do? We prayed.


NOTHING ELSE COUNTS.

MATTHEW 5:16



 










GROSS PYTHON

I posted about my fear of snakes  in April. 

Life began to change early this week.  Most mornings I am out and about on my 3-mile exercise walk.  Every once in a while I hear the Lord tell me to walk down a side block, and often don't know why.  Sometimes I meet someone.  Other times I simply pray regarding the houses and any other spiritual aspect that might pop in.  WELL, this time He told me to head down a block I hadn't taken before.  As I was 1/2 way along, I saw a garter snake on the sidewalk.  I stopped.  I wasn't sure whether it was dead or alive.  I shifted a tiny bit, and it stuck out it's tongue.  When I started to move again, it rushed away from me and up into the yard.

The good part?  I DID NOT SCREAM!!!  [I've done it before and caused other people to laugh.]  What does this mean to me?  The Lord has been healing my heart-filled fear of snakes. [Doesn't mean I want to go play with them, though.  Uh, UH!]

When I was thinking about this a couple days ago, I felt I had one I could share that would be funny/interesting. Might not scare you too much.  Here goes:

When I was in Uganda last time, arriving in November, 2003, I was staying at the New Hope Uganda orphanage.  My son and daughter, Sam and Adhe, didn't have space for me, so it was arranged that I could stay with Marian, a sponsorship director from UK.

One morning I was sitting down at the table to eat my tea-and-toast breakfast, glanced out the window, and saw a dead python being carried around. 

With my snake terrification, if it had been alive, I would have been climbing up the walls to reach the roof and not risk being chased or touched by it.

However, in this case, instead of hiding, I grabbed my camera and headed to their yard.  Took a few photos.  Sometimes the photos weren't as crazy as the words I was hearing.  The two girls had draped the python over their shoulders and wrapped it around them and then one of them said, "Yuk!  It's leaking on us." [It had been dead since the day before, so it's body fluid was pouring through the surface.  I can hardly imagine anything more horrible!]

Then I took the photo of it being held by the group.  It was about 15 feet long. [The house I'd been staying in is in the background.]

 
 One of the guys prepped the skin for making and selling a variety of items.  The next day I saw one of the young fellows of a ministry family holding it.

I wouldn't have accepted one of the items if given to me as a special gift by my best family or friends... whether there or here.  But many people around the world love the purses, shoes, belts, wallets and other merchandize pieces.

One "souvenir" I lost  -- one of it's teeth. 



Have so many cobra 
and python stories during the 12 years while in and out of Uganda, but this python bit the main one that made me grin.

Grinning is a rare "snake" experience, but I DID IT! How cool is that??

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

CHRISTMAS GIFTS FOR HOMELESS


OK, OK.  I know it ain't anywhere near Christmas at this point.  BUT when reading a blog post about giving blankets to the homeless ... a blog which I couldn't find, so Susie sent it to me for which I'm very grateful: http://ponderingsbykris.blogspot.com/2012/08/reach-out-and-touch.html ... I recalled immediately something that landed in my life at Christmas, 1984, was really worth sharing with you.

Back then, I had recently been divorced and had moved back to Omaha, NE, from Edmond, OK, in September.  Got a job soon, so I could, at least, feed my kids and pay my rent, etc. You know, those basics.  Overall, it was truly a challenge. I didn't have enough money for much of anything else, and the Lord dropped some sweet bits and pieces into my life through friends and a local missions organization.  My Lord was truly my Restorer and Storer.

Then...Heavy sigh!  When Christmas break was hitting at school, my kids [15 and 12] wanted to go to Oklahoma to see their friends and visit their dad.  I had to pay for the bus trip.  Can't remember how I came up with that money, but it was not easy.

As soon as they left, it was also not easy to face Christmas with no family on my plate.  Depression slammed me...again.

Now, in October, God had given me a friend.  Ken was a musician and a single dad with his two kids.  We met through and hung out with a bunch of folks at a Teen Challenge Friday night drama/music/worship gathering.

Ken, just like me, rarely had extra cash. Then something happened that has always caused me to rejoice and I've never quite understood how it came to pass.  One of those "God" things.

On Christmas Eve, Ken had an idea.  He had one of his neighbors babysit his kids.  Then, shortly before stores were closing down, we went to K-Mart.  We grabbed about 30 snow caps and gloves from a filled bin at one of the central aisles.  Because it was late and people were done buying, the prices were reduced significantly.  Somehow, we had enough to pay for them.  Then we went to his apartment and wrapped them, sometimes caps and gloves together and sometimes each separately.

The next day, Christmas, we drove downtown with the pile of gifts on the passenger-side floor.  When we saw someone against a building wall, not covered with anything warm, we'd open the windows and holler "Merry Christmas" and I'd toss a package.  We had the stuff divided between men, women, and kids, so I grabbed what looked like it would be best for the folks we saw.

In about half an hour nearly everything was gone.  Then we saw a lady and her young-teen boy standing by a bus stop, but no hats or gloves [and, believe me, it was NOT warm that day!].  We had exactly what they needed and we tossed them, and the car was empty.  We headed back to his apartment and spent time "yippee-ing" and rejoicing and enjoying his kids, watching Christmas stories on TV.

When I think of Christmas now... nearly 28 years later ... I often think of the joyfulness of that one day.  And how the Lord turned "mourning" and "sorrow" and big time depression into happiness -- for me, and, hopefully, for the recipients.  So often have wanted to do that same thing again [and again, and again], but life keeps interfering. 

Maybe,  just maybe, it'll happen, be another blessing ... for them and for me.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

WARFARE FROM HERE TO HEAVEN

When I saw that "arsenal" was the Peter Pollock Word Carnival this week, I thunk and thunk about it.  Then I thought I knew what I should focus on, which is the final section about First Responders, but, as I was washing dishes Monday evening, the other portions were dropped in by the Lord.  So, here goes...
 ============================================

I had been the caregiver and protector of my sisters since I was about 7 years old [not that enjoyed it!]. 

 10 years old

In the Fall of 1957, when I was 12, a world-wide event took place.  I was standing in our front yard and Sputnik passed over.  Russia was our most dangerous conflicting nation, and with Sputnik's arrival this was proven to all of us.

Being in Tacoma, WA, with McChord Air Force Base, Ft. Lewis Army Base, and other military groups not far away, we were very aware of the Cold War. In school, for instance, in the 1950s and forward, we had protection practices called Duck and Cover during possible nuclear bombing. [Climbing under the desk and covering our head and closing our eyes certainly wasn't going to make a difference and protect us.]

Seeing Sputnik, knowing about the Cold War and the possibility that Russia would be striking us soon, when I went to bed, I would sometimes stare at the ceiling and think of my responsibility for my sisters.  I would plan ways to protect them and wound or kill whoever broke into our house to hurt the girls.  I didn't have a gun at that age, of course, but I would keep other "weapons" in my mind... mostly, striking with baseball bats or metal tools or knives.  I would always be on guard for those 5 girls. That was my "job".  [My parents didn't realize that was how serious I was.  We never talked about it.  But, whether they understood it or not, the responsibility had been laid on me and I had no choice but to take it.]

Several years later, life changed.  The day after high school graduation, when 17, I left home, and I was no longer perceived as the caregiver for my sisters.  I became independent and rebellious, filled with confusion, depression, and suicidal mentality [and extremely sinful] . Slowly that changed after I came to the Lord when I was 20 [or, more specifically, as He broke into my life] and I grew in Him.

I was 40 when I married my dear husband in September, 1985.  A month after our wedding, my daughter, Renae, a high school junior, began having problems with a couple of her teachers.  I was ready to fight for her, even though it wasn't necessarily the right choice.  Dave and I were standing in the kitchen, and I was fussing about this, and Dave said, with some irritation, "How long are you going to keep throwing yourself on other people's grenades?"  Flippantly, with an eye towards Renae's future, graduating from high school and leaving home for college, I answered, "Two. More. Years." 

Two years later, I was in a severe situation re: codependency treatment, described in my recent post called Breakdown.  It was deadly serious, believe me.

NOW, life has changed. In a good way.  I don't plan to grab baseball bats, knives, and guns, or toss myself on grenades. I don't swing my fists, which I did for many years. I don't think of ways to grab protection for myself or for others.  Instead, I trust my Father to draw me to the right place at the right time to protect others through prayer and spiritual arsenal weapons.  HE is the 850,000,000 Star General.  With no retirement.  And if He orders me to do something or ANYthing, it is my job to do so.  Period.

For instance.  When this topic hit today, I received an email from the leader of the First Responders group.  I've posted a few times about that organization which goes to murder sites within 24 to 48 hours after the murder has occurred. 


Two murders occurred on Sunday.  Probably/possibly connected to gangs.  Tuesday we will be at both locations to pray for the neighborhood folks, the victims families, and any other needs that come to us.  I try to not ever miss FR.  The reason?  These spiritual warfare arsenal weapons are the prayer time, the prayer walking, the speaking to people who can be held and loved and blessed.  Nothing else counts.  The Lord has so often brought the killers to the surface quickly. It is amazing.  And, some of the friends and family come to the Lord, break away from their gang connections, seek His guidance and direction for their new way of life.  I can't imagine anything much more glorious.

So, warfare will continue throughout the earth until the Lord has redeemed the world with His new arrival.  It will continue with me until I have died and gone to heaven.  BUT it is the same warfare weapons that Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and other leaders of the past OT prophetic orders:  Turn to the Lord and trust only Him.  [God has me buried in the Prophet portion of the Word right now.  Again.]

I hope I will be faithful and trust Him, and Him alone. That's my goal.

Monday, August 20, 2012

JOYS IN HEAVEN

One Sunday afternoon, in April, 1978, while folding piles of clothes on my bed from the dryer, I received a phone call from my then-and-forever-friend, Susie.  

[Photo from my visit in May, 2012]
 
We both lived in Omaha at that time.  God had used her to "rescue" me and my kids from California 4 years earlier, and we lived with her family for several months. It was an amazing blessing and protecting stretch.  Now, when she called, I was living in my own home, about 3 miles away from hers.

During the short call, she indicated that there was the need for a meeting that evening.  I said I'd be there.  I wasn't certain why and she didn't tell me.

Shortly after the call, while continuing the folding, the Lord dropped the answer in.  He told me Susie's family was moving to their generational homestead land in northern Minnesota, 550 miles away from me.  He knew I might cry a little, but it was the right place for her and hers to go.  No question.

THEN, He dropped a song into my heart.  I grabbed a paper and pen and wrote it immediately.  Never had to adjust it; it was exactly word by word and music note by note.

[Oh, and, yes, that evening this "moving to MN" was quickly shared with us.  How kind and caring can our Lord be?  Very sweet to me with that event occurring unexpectedly.]


I've had the song all this time.  A couple years ago, I shared the history of the song and sang it at my church at the talent show.  I am NOT a great singer, but my husband played the tune very carefully and sweetly while I sang, and the "listeners" really enjoyed it, especially the wording.  [I told them that God gave it to me; can't take the credit for this one!]

==========================================

 There will be joys in heaven
Words try to express -
"Love" and "comfort"
"Peace" and "Rest".
There will be joys in Heaven
Words try to explain -
"No more tears", "No more pain."


We'll be with Jesus,
We'll be with the Father,
We'll have total freedom and fellowship sweet,
With joyous communion around the throne,
Worshiping freely at Christ's dear feet.


But one of the pleasures that I'm longing for.
One of the joys that I want more and more
Is walking and talking with those that I love,
Walking and talking on streets high above.


No more separation by time or by space,
No more to be missing your sweet loving face
No more to be standing watching you go.
Walking and talking above.


So welcome us Jesus to the house you've prepared.
Let us adore you and worship you there.
Let us be ever, together, dear Lord.
Walking and talking above.






Tell Me a Story


Monday, August 13, 2012

THE ORPHAN ROCK

   
 It looked forlorn
    at road’s edge –
Cut off from its
    fellowship at the cliff.

My heart reached out –
    wanted to shelter it –
        to take it home--
    to make new friends...


   However,
    We have a car –
   not a van
       nor a truck.

There’s no room in the inn.


The dear one

 -- heavy sigh -- 
must remain an orphan.

======================
I wrote this while Dave and I were enjoying a trip in 2002 along the North Shore of Lake Superior.  So many lovely rocks, so many colorful flowery and tree locations.  YES, we have brought lots of rocks home in our trunk, but sometimes the lovely, glorious ones were too big, too heavy.  I'm just blessed over and over that the Lord allows us to travel and see such beauty.  With all of life's intense times of serving the Lord and pouring His love into others, we sometimes need a break.  That area is a true filler-upper of peace and joy and rest.  [And, for me, rocks.]

Tell Me a Story


BREAKDOWN

"You can wait in here."  The nurse showed us into a small office, smiled cheerily, and left us alone.  For a few seconds I lost control, clung to my husband, and cried.  Then I pulled away, wiped my face, sat in one of the blue vinyl chairs, and stared at the wall.

It seemed my whole life was spent studying walls.  Counting nails or tacks, bricks, concrete block, or following the flower patterns in wall paper.  And now I was studying another wall, nubby plaster painted an institutional green, willing myself to be somewhere else, to not think about what was happening, to not feel.

My husband stood behind the chair and put his arms around me.  "Please try to relax, Cary.  It'll be OK.  You'll see."

I couldn't say anything.  So I didn't.  But I sure thought a lot.  Mostly questions.  How did this happen to me?  I had always been strong, surviving hell first as a child, and then again in a disastrous first marriage.  Now, for the first time, life was good -- and I was falling apart. 

The crisis reached a peak two days earlier.  Dave and I were attending an outdoor concert on one of those hot, humid late- summer days.  Suddenly my heart started racing and I had the sensation of my body separating from my "self."  Never having died before, I wasn't certain, but I was pretty sure that was what was happening.  My mind flooded with insane, inane thoughts.

"I can't die here.  It would be so embarrassing.  It would ruin the concert for everyone else."   I willed myself to pull back together, but the line between life and death seemed very fragile.

That evening I tenuously suggested I might need "a little outside counseling."  Relief flooded Dave's face and he said quickly, "We can check out some hospitals next week."  Inside, I panicked!  "Hospital?!  I don't need a hospital.  Just a little help."

Sunday morning started out OK.  I felt rested.  Half way through the church service, though, I lost control again, and ran out of the sanctuary crying.  I sat outside on the step and sobbed.  Dave followed me out and held me.  All I could do was ask over and over, "What's wrong with me?  What's wrong with me?"  He didn't answer, because, of course, he had no answers.

And now it was Monday morning, Labor Day, and I was staring at a wall.  In a hospital. Earlier that day, one of the hospital's nurses, our friend, had suggested, rather casually, that I come over, even though it was a holiday.  "One of our counselors will be there and he can talk to you."  She revealed later that she knew what was happening and I needed help desperately.  She didn't want to risk losing me.

A short rap on the door was followed by a soft "Good morning."  I turned to look in the direction of the voice and saw it belonged to a pleasant middle-aged black male face.  He shook hands with us and slouched comfortably into his chair, sifted through some papers on his desk, and brought out a file with my name printed in the corner.  All I could think was, "They're quick.  Doesn't take long to become a number in the computer."

He looked at me.  I tried to maintain eye contact.  I wanted to at least look like I had some volition in this decision.  But, seeing the compassion in his eyes, mine filled with tears and I immediately shifted my focus to a point just south of his chin.  "Cary, your intake information and evaluation indicate you are in the midst of a severe depressive reaction."

I shot a sharp glance up to his face and thought rather than said, "Bright deduction.  I knew that much."

He continued.  "We will be exploring several areas during your stay, not the least of which is the abuses of your childhood..."

I interrupted.  "What possible bearing can my childhood have on this situation?  I handled all that a long time ago."

He smiled indulgently and I could almost feel him patting my head.  "Cary, I think you're wrong.  I believe you'll discover your childhood is handling you."  He paused.  I clenched my teeth exhibiting the characteristic "tight jaws" defense I used when I felt backed into a wall.

"Anyhow," he said, "we'll find out in time."

"How much time?  My daughter is singing in a program in ten days and I need to be there."

"I'm sorry, but I think you need to stay here for four weeks.  Minimum."

Once again panic struck.  "Four weeks?  Oh no, I can't possibly be here that long.  I have a house, you know, and responsibilities."  I stood up.  "We'll go home and talk about it."

Dave stood then, but did not start for the door.  He reached out his hand and touched my arm.  I turned and saw his eyes flooded with tears and anguish in his face.  "Cary.  Please.  Please stay.  If not for yourself, do it for us."

I cried then.  How could I refuse him?  Dave loved me.  He was one of few people in my whole life who treated me kindly and with respect.  "I'm so scared...so scared,"  I sobbed out.

Our tears mingling, he kissed me gently and said again, "It'll be OK, Cary.  It'll be OK."

I stayed.
======================================
This is a story I wrote a number of years ago for a writing group.  It's almost exactly what happened at the hospital entry stretch, and it IS exactly what occurred during the previous days at a concert and church.  I entered the hospital/treatment center on Labor Day, 1987, 3 weeks before our 2nd anniversary.  I would never have expected my body to explode from the goodness of life, but, according to the psychiatrists and counselors, that is exactly what happened.  I was the first person who had ever been admitted to this hospital/addiction location  as a codependent with a straight-line heart, indicating I was dying.  Alcoholics and drug addicts sometimes had it; no one like me ever had.  I was a "shocker to even them.


Their description:  For years I had been in, or ready for, a battle, needing to fight for myself or others.  When being with Dave, I had entered an R & R phase and rested and enjoyed myself.  Then, suddenly, my system "needed" to jump back into battles.  My internal system "said" the R & R was over. But there wasn't a battle, so "I" was falling apart.

Can I say even now that my month there was a blessing?  On God's side, yes.  On my side I struggled with nearly every minute, hour, day.  But, between that several-week stretch and a couple years of Christian group meetings re: Adult Children of Alcoholics and other basic counseling, I improved.  Significantly.

Now, 25 years later, I'm still a "battler", but, instead of family and cultural conflict, it's almost always connected to spiritual warfare.  So, in spite of the fact that I didn't want to deal with those mental and medical issues, I am now freer than ever to simply focus on and serve our Lord and obey Him when He directs me to His battle sites.  HALLELUJAH!!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

UP FROM THE ASH

I'll never forget the relief.

The decision was made April 27, 1984.  For two years I had struggled over whether to allow a divorce, because so many aspects had become more and more physically and emotionally dangerous, for both me and my kids.  I prayed, sought counseling, cried, screamed, threatened, made possible plans "if" -- and all the time hated the thought of giving in to the failure of a marriage, a definitely not OK Christian choice.  It truly was the last alternative I wanted to face.  In fact, I had gone to a women's conference in Tulsa, asking only one question of God -- "What do YOU see needs to be done about this?"  [I knew HE knew the future and could pour hope into my heart.]  Before the conference was over, all the pieces were joined together, and I stopped churning and tossing and was at peace.  Momentarily.

I reached home late that Saturday.  Wasn't sure what to say or when, was willing to wait for months if that was laid on my heart; still hoping for miraculous marriage-healing to occur. [In spite of what I'd "heard" in Tulsa, I knew God could bring anything to pass.]  Then, within half an hour, details my kids told me when I got home, confirmed that waiting was not an option.

Even knowing this, I was nervous about telling Lowell.   I needn't have been.  When I told him I was going to file for a divorce, he, true to pattern, shrugged his shoulders and said offhandedly, "Whatever."

After the relief, euphoria enveloped me.  I spent about 10 weeks operating in an unreal fantasy realm--not knowing, at that time, that it was fantasy.  I thought I was done crying forever and ever and now could joyfully go on with life.

I was wrong. BUT...

I...was...flying.  It was greatMy friends would have told me I'd crash if they thought I would believe them.  Months later, I remembered an Emergency! episode from the television show in the 1970s.  A man at a loading dock was pinned by a truck from his chest down.  He was smiling and said he was fine; he didn't understand the fuss.  The paramedics standing to the side said, "We better be ready, because when they move that truck the pain is going to hit."  Well, they were right.  The truck moved and the man screamed in pain and passed out.

In the next life-changing phase, my "truck" moved, too.  And the pain hit...but I couldn't faint, and I couldn't die, and I couldn't understand why I had so much pain or what caused it, or what to do with it.  All I knew was it was there--all the time-- one L-O-N-G contraction, broken occasionally by a painless moment, just long enough to allow me to catch my breath and steel myself for the next onslaught.

Gradually, that, too, changed.  After a few months, a swing began.  A few days without pain--a few days with.  A few weeks of dull pain; a few days with extreme pain, with a slow return to normalcy.  Nearly a year later, I felt more complete--most of the time--although I was aware of the enormous hole in my "self", and VERY aware of the loneliness.

But, in spite of everything, through the Lord I had HOPE.  The hope buried deep in my heart that I had a real future; that, just as in nature, there would be growth and beauty from ashes. 

"He gave me beauty for ashes; the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness."  Isaiah 61:3

And, like the aftermath of Mt. St. Helens, and the destruction of that indestructible rock, when lichen and ferns and wild flowers began to push their way through that gray, brittle, gritty ash, so my "life" was returning.  It was never the same.


One lesson I learned through this:  No matter what the future holds, I know my God. And I know that I know that I know that there is always growth and I will always  rise "up from the ashes."

[A year and 3 weeks after the divorce decision, on May 19, 1985, God dropped Dave into my life.  For 27 years, he has been a blessing to me and my kids (and, now, grandkids), a giver, a God-server, a truly appreciative husband, a stability -- something I had rarely experienced. I am an extremely blessed woman!  And another heart-pounder?  He believes he is blessed, too!  WOW!!]