Dark Hours

I feel closest to God in those dark hours that bring sleep or illness.
Confined to bed.
Dark hours of emotion, depression, irrational thought.
Confined to spirit.
Void of the physical.
Confined to thoughts and dreams.

I feel closest because I must answer the questions:
What do you believe?
Where is your heart?
…courage?
…resolve?
What is real?
What is true?

Simplest, inarguable answer:
I trust you, God.
I will listen to your truth.

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The Lonely Bird

When I was lonely and missing my family while I was overseas, I read this verse from the NASB.

Psalm 102:7

I lie awake,
I have become like a lonely bird on a housetop.

When you flap your feathers about, you risk being alone in the sky.
So we must call out to God. And wait upon his eagle wings.

sunset on carmel

Christ=Love

Philippians 1:9-10 NIV

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10 so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ,


So our love may abound.

That’s not a selfish love for ourselves. That is love for our neighbor. Fellow man, global partner, friend, boss, co-worker, passerby, merchant, customer, homeless man on the street.

Do u think if you knew why a person was a jerk that you could love them more? If you knew why a man was homeless could you hold his hand? Offer him food? Wash his feet? If you heard his story, could you see his heart?

Our depth of insight is shallow. We don’t care why someone takes advantage of us, we just know that we have to fight for our rights! That is the American way. We were founded on this principle.

The knowledge Christ gives us of human relationship is deep and unending. And Christ asks us to overlook our rights to reach the heart of man. He forfeited his rights on the cross to reach us. Right?


I saw a man on the street holding a sign this week as I made my way to the hospital to drop off my collected labs.

AMERICA NEEDS JESUS CHRIST

We surely do. We need Christ. Christ=Love. Love=Unconditional care. Amen, Brother.

Loving-Kindness

According to Wikipedia‘s article regarding loving-kindness in Judaism:

Loving-kindness is used as an English translation for the Hebrew word חסד (chesed). This term is used often in the book of Psalms, and refers to acts of kindness, motivated by love. It is used primarily in reference to God, rather than people. One example is found in Psalm 107, where verse 43 reads:

“Whoso is wise, and will observe these things, even they shall understand the loving-kindness of the LORD.” [11]

The term is also used in Pirkei Avot, with the quote “The world stands on three things: Torah, the service of God, and deeds of loving-kindness.”


I’m not a very kind person sometimes. I am downright irascible (easily angered).

I love the word irascible. It reminds me of a word that Mark Twain would utter about Pap.

I love words. No matter their meaning, good or bad. Especially when they perfectly define an attitude, feeling or experience.

I mumbled yesterday morning about applying my makeup for an interview. “Best apply a modicum of makeup, so as not to look a fright.”

Who talks like that? I do. Mostly. Enough to confuse and irritate the natives. Much to the cringe and chagrin of my associates.

“Who are you?” question my befuddled, and mildly-impressed, acquaintances.

A writer.

But I found another person who loves words and their sounds as much as I do and I married him. And together we sound like a ridiculous Noel Coward play. But some people like that.

As much as I love words, I don’t love people. I am not full of loving-kindness. I cling to loving-kindness with desperate fingers, but cannot claim it. I want to love others but I so often fail. Strange. Because I think, at the core, writers do love people. Maybe from afar? I have to love people to love words because the words are describing the lovely people. What the people are doing, where they are going, how they are loving or not loving.

Maybe I should write about animals. LOL

Loving-kindness, as a theory, is often a writer’s goal. How often they achieve loving-kindness IRL is a Hemingwayan mystery. We write about the ideal, but do we live it? I don’t usually. But, in my writing and in life, I strive for it. Is that enough though?

I do tend to write about my successes of loving-kindness and not my failures. I try to be fair in that, but writing can often be the Facebook of experience. We only see the shining examples of behavior and not the gritty underbelly of daily meanderings.

Well, in the interest of writing fair, I fail at loving others, especially my husband, on almost a daily basis. That’s the truth. I snap and snip at the slightest pressure, but mainly because…no. I won’t make excuses.

I can be a ripe jerk.

I’m an alligator. Waiting. And if you trip? I attack.

If you trigger my snap warning, I’ll eat you alive. Once an alligator bites, he can’t let go. Even if he wanted to. And why would he want to? Those jaws are locked. And loaded. Clamps down on your neck, thrashes around, and down you go. Drowned. Ground into a fine hamburger. If you whimper, complain, or try to negotiate? It’ll just take longer.

I don’t want to be an alligator. But when you grow up in a swamp, do you have a choice?

I’m evolving. At least I feel guilty about it now.

I have brilliant moments of loving-kindness shine through and save me. For others and from others. But maybe that’s most people’s experience. Those are the moments we live for. And when there’s not enough of those moments, sometimes, what we die for.

In a world of growing hate and difference of opinion, we most certainly need loving-kindness. Certainly. But if I can’t succeed in my own daily life, what hope does the world have?

We’re evolving. Let’s drain the swamp and love others. Simply and completely.

I can’t eat another alligator. Someone I recognize as being my kind. So we just have to look for the human. How can you hate someone who looks and acts and thinks like you? We all have eyeballs. We all have fur. We all have 2 arms, 2 legs, a brain and a heart. Usually. 🙂

With all my anger, flaws and ugliness, I still want to be loved. So I need to love. Even unlovables in their anger, flaws and ugliness. And do so out of kindness. It requires vulnerability and humility. Being open and humble.

Who are you?

Grad-geeated

I don’t always spell things korrectly. Or punctuate! “in the right place”. or capitalize. But dammit, I’m a college graduate!!

I have 2 two-year degrees now from Metropolitan Community College. A very liberal arts degree from the 90s. LOL And I’m very proud of this most recent degree–graphic design, an applied science! (sounds so awesome, Imma scientist! lol)

It was hard to go back to school at 36. To be surrounded by people half my age. To relearn art. To move from Photoshop User to Artist. To embrace my creativity and hone my skills.

Everyone gambled on me. And I wanted to succeed.

I finally did.

I got sick just after finishing my classes. I never applied for graduation. I tried to follow up with the school about completion and transferring some classes from UMKC, but trying to find an actual job and getting very sick just left graduation simmering on the stove. For 6 years! UGH!

Embarrassing. But I knew I had my skills. I didn’t need a piece of paper.

Well. Yes. I did. LOL But when you’re sick? Just getting out of bed is an accomplishment.

Thank you to my prof who helped me grad-geeate. I was sick for so long and to have this is healing. It’s my cap and gown, it’s my walk down the aisle, it’s my handshake. Thank you.

Take Heart

Psalm 61:2 (NIV)
From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

OR this version which is much cooler and grammatically correct (LOL):

GOD’S WORD Translation
From the ends of the earth, I call to you when I begin to lose heart. Lead me to the rock that is high above me.


So, like, bring me to a higher place, a higher ground. Right? High above me. Like, way up there! Pull me up!

But about losing heart. Losing nerve. Losing courage.

It’s hard to be brave when you’re playing chicken with job satisfaction and basic human needs. Right?

Justification upon justification says, “Pay the rent. Enjoy air-conditioning. Eat food.”

And Jesus said to the rich man, “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.Mark 10:21

Gulp. He didn’t say anything about A/C and paying the rent.

But this was the rich man’s stumbling block. The thing that kept him from God. The one thing he wasn’t willing to do. Walk away from his most precious accomplishment. His most closely-held ideal.

Jesus knew that. He knew the man’s heart, the core of what drove this man every day–get money, things, wealth and power. And Jesus challenged that. Like he does!

The man was rich. You don’t wake up rich, I’ve tried. You have to really bust your hump to get it. You may even have to screw someone else to get ahead. In fact, most definitely.

The passage ends with sadness. The man is deeply sad because his eager heart is confronted by his unmotivated flesh. The account reads, “…the man’s face fell.”

So, his face was all “Yes! I love you Jesus! *SMILES* I’ll do anything for you, just tell me, ’cause I don’t know what to do with all this intention and I’m so excited by you!”

Jesus: Give it all up! Walk away from everything you hold dear. Be like me. Live on faith.

And then, his face was all “That’s the worst news I’ve ever gotten.”

I’ve been there.

This is hearing from Jesus:
To a porn addict: Just come on over to church when you get that whole porn-sex thing figured out.
To an overeater: Stop eating so much and I’ll see you over here!
To a gun collector: Yeah, sell all those things that make you feel safe and powerful and then follow me into a really bad neighborhood.

Uh. What?

Yeah.

I don’t think Jesus was telling the man do this or you can’t hang out. He was saying, “Oh, you want the answer? You won’t like it. It’s not easy!”

He was explaining. “The road I choose for you and the path you’re on don’t merge. Getting to my road isn’t going to be easy. It’s complicated. And you’re going to have to let go of everything that is materialistic. Can you do that? Are you still happy and eager?”

It’s like hearing about this job that you can have where all the best versions of life come true and you have everything you’ve ever wanted emotionally, financially and physically. But you have an hour commute. Or the job is on the other side of the world. The neighborhood is rough. Or there’s no neighborhood…on the other side of the world!

Have everything you ever wanted, but here’s the price: giving up everything that ever made you feel comfortable.

It’s like losing your heart. Losing the very thing that you thought made you tick, motivated you, drove you, inspired you. And you find out, all along, you were ticking to another machine. A greedy, oily machine that disgusts you. But you can’t live without it.


It’s much harder when you’re making decisions for 3 people and not just yourself. I’m married with one child. That’s a decision I made a long time ago and didn’t even have to think about. Yes! A thousand times, yes. Give me those choices, over and over, and I’d give the same answer–yes! Yes, to my husband. Yes, to my baby. Yes, to a lifetime of laughter, love and fulfillment.

But I have wandered this lonely planet for years in search of the right “job” for me. Because wife and mother doesn’t pay very well. 😉 I would love to be a writer who gets paid to spit wisdom on paper. I would love to work from home doing graphic design, photography, acting, writing, creative stuff. But nobody pays you for that. Or if they do, it’s not enough to pay the bills.

I would actually love to serve a mission before I die and help others. Live in a hut. Roll around in the mud. Haul water. Build things. Take showers outdoors. Not take showers at all. Meet people. Love on people. Stinky people.

I know that comes with many challenges. Sickness, loss, difficult physical conditions. No luxury! And how can I choose that for 2 other people?

But if I know anything, those moments are the ones we live and die for, the ones where we feel most connected to other humans. We don’t clean and count our possessions. We see and touch and talk to other humans. What are we living for if not God’s people, each other, our neighbor?

Things are nice. Things are really nice. Comfortable. Secure. Reassuring. Downright luxurious. But I don’t think God created us to be comfortable. Right? Idk. Most of the time, following Christ has moved me out of my comfort zone. Which I hate. But what does a person accomplish in their comfort zone? Even internally?

I’ve never truly loved another person inside of my comfort zone. My husband regularly pushes me into Uncomfort Zone. Being a mom isn’t always comfortable. High rewards in both relationships, but I am often challenged to love without limits. But I don’t want to!

Loving cute little babies and sexy husbands is easy. It’s when they aren’t so attractive that makes it a challenge. “Hey, Babe, do this thing I know you hate just because I like it.” or “Hey, Mom, drop what you’re doing and come help me.” Sigh.

OR

My husband said to me the other day, “Triggered!” Which is our shorthand for, “Leave me alone, I can’t deal with your issue, get off my back! Back up off me, Bro!!” And I hollered back, “Me triggered!” And he just softened so much. His eyes changed to deep compassion and empathy for me. At the drop of two words. He was way outside his comfort zone and loved on me. That’s marriage. That’s being outside of your comfort zone and loving.

Dropping your life, your issue, your house, your car, your bills, your ego at the door and following Jesus. Loving without limits. Driving to the bad neighborhood and helping. ‘Cause where else do they need help except the bad neighborhood? Doing the crummiest jobs because who else is doing them?


I have a chance for a job and it’s everything I always wanted. High emotional satisfaction, working for a nonprofit that espouses Christian beliefs, helping poor people find housing, using my graphic design skills, photography and other creative talents. 100% health and dental benefits. But it’s in a different part of town. It’s a drive for sure. But exactly what I want. Probably very rewarding. But I haven’t been offered the job. I’m in the initial stages of interviewing.

BUT! I have a job offer on the table. Office work. Part-time. Nothing glamorous. Not really in my field. A little, but it’s mainly answering the phone, scheduling rides and data entry. Some social media perhaps.

What do I do? Hold out for the perfect job? Or take the first thing I can get? I feel confident that I will have a job before the end of this month or next. (Unless I become famous for blogging, retire early and eat coconuts. LOL) Do I wait? Do I take the okay job and then quit when offered the full-time dream career? The okay job made it clear, “People come in and then leave me in a lurch, and I just need someone who’s gonna stay.” In light of that very explicit detail, I don’t want to start and then bail when I get something better.

I have been out of the traditional job market for so long, I don’t know what to do. Ethically and idealistically, my gut says don’t take okay and wait. There doesn’t seem to be a clear answer. But we need the dough. The perfect job isn’t so perfect either. There are drawbacks. But it’s my field of graphic design. I’ve waited so long to do what I went back to school for. Ugh.

What do I really want? What do I need to do for my family?


I’ll figure it out. But this is hard. Deep breath. Don’t spiral.

Take heart, be brave, find courage. Follow Jesus. Get dirty. Love without limits today. It’s just that easy!

LOL No. It’s hard.

But try it! It’s like climbing a rock. 🙂

You can be lead to that rock.
But you have to decide to climb it.
But you don’t have to climb it alone.

Lead me to the rock that is higher than me!

 

Sore

This morning I was really struggling with paralyzing doubt. But I blogged it off. 🙂 I wrote a poem. The emotional equivalent, for me, of pulling one’s self up by the proverbial boot straps.

Dealing with doubt. Doubt that I can be on top of my potential. Doubt that I will get a job in the profession that I chose 12 years ago. The profession that I entered at 32, went back to school for at 36, and at 44, the profession in which I’ve never had much success.

Doubt that I will ever be known. Doubt that I will ever be the person God wants me to be. Doubt that I can write with any caliber. Doubt that I have any value whatsoever.

Doubt that I can offer the world anything at all. Or worse yet, doubt that the world, when met with my offerings, will ever accept or understand me.

Fear, doubt, self-hatred. Shame, guilt, remorse. It’s been coming to a slow boil for days. Plus, I have a horrible headache from bumping my head yesterday. Very painful, sore arms and just a lethargy that I cannot shake. Whenever I feel physical pain in the company of depression or anxiety, I become very vulnerable and weak.

Physical pain aside (because what can you do except take a Tylenol and ice it down?), the author of the negativity is not God. The authorship deserves co-credit. Me. The world. Satan.

You can’t believe lies if you write them down. The power of the past disintegrates as pen touches paper. Or fingers touch keys. Lies evaporate when met with the truth of God’s words.

Don’t doubt. God, self or what’s been promised.

Jer 29:11 NIV
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Don’t listen to lies. Wasted energy that could be used for pursuing your dreams. Or healing your bumps. 🙂

I have better things to do. And writing turned my whole day around. Super productive and feeling cheerful now. Still sore, but happy. Who woulda thunk?

Raise Your Sails

Republishing because I needed something positive this morning. Hope you need it, too. Don’t lose hope. You’ll survive. Even thrive. Just. Move. Forward.


Fix your eye
On the endless sky.
See the light behind the storm.

Raise your sails
For the new-found sea.
Un-anchor from the shore.

Find your wind.
Begin again.
Don’t linger in the shoals.

You’re the one
Who will feel the sun.
Ride the wave wherever it rolls.

Summit

Did you know climbing some of the biggest mountains can leave climbers with symptoms that are very similar to heart failure? Death zones are places at the top of a mountain where low oxygen and poor weather conditions make even breathing a pain-filled struggle.

A documentary on K2 detailed the descent of a group of climbers and the, not only external, but internal physical hazards they faced, succumbing easily to harsh elements on the dangerous peak. Many of the symptoms sounded very familiar. I could imagine exactly what they were feeling, up in the ice and snow.

Moving just a few feet can be almost impossible. Feeling dizzy, out of breath, throbbing heart, difficulty thinking, seeing. Every muscle struggling for oxygen. Barely able to move. Swelling in the body. Deep vein thrombosis.

Losing weight and dealing with heart failure are two big mountains that I face every day. Plus, no thyroid due to cancer, no gallbladder due to failure, no ability to deal with triggers due to PTSD. No self-esteem due to lifelong emotional abuse from family, friends and strangers. Sigh. What else ya got for me, Lord? LOL

We’ve been watching documentaries about climbing. I don’t know why because I am NEVER climbing a mountain. NOPE! I admire the determination though. A mountaineer from the past said, as he looked at the mountain he was about to climb from a distance, he was already full of dread and foreboding. He was referring to K2. One of the biggest (undoubtedly toughest) Himalayan peaks. It’s near Everest. Mt. Everest is even taller, but less difficult. The weather conditions alone on K2 prevent many climbers from ever reaching the top. Sometimes, they never leave the mountain. One climber described the ascent as a mountain on top of a mountain.


Have you ever faced an obstacle and overcome it?
Only to find there was another mountain to climb?


You are already exhausted, elated and thankful to be done climbing, but you realize quickly, after reaching the top, you’re not done. The place that you were aiming at is stretched out of reach and you don’t have a choice other than to finish. You have to go further to reach the ultimate goal. Many climbers face a false summit.

A false summit, or false peak, is an illusion. You can’t see the very top of the mountain because the incline is so steep. The summit you are seeing is merely the top of the path you’re on. What you can’t see, the very, very top lies behind your immediate goal. At these times, I want to give up. When I reach the intended top and realize I have further to go? F’n forget it.

I start to question all of my efforts and I’m ready to give up. Like losing 100 pounds and hitting a plateau. I think,

“I’m good. I can stop. I can take a break.”

OR

“I may just be overweight for the rest of my life and what have I lost? I have a husband who loves me. I have a child. I have all the things I ever wanted and I’m happy with myself. I don’t have to climb this mountain. I can get off this mountain now!”

That could be true. I could just turn around and climb down. And everyone I know will just have to accept that I’m good and I’m done. And they probably would.

But if I really think about it, if I give it a hot minute, I don’t want to give up. Plus, climbing down ain’t gonna be easy either! I understand the climber’s motivated drive.

I must conquer this. I’ve come this far.

Many climbers have instincts. And the wise ones follow them. The ones that go home in one piece follow their gut. My gut tells me, no pun intended, that I need to keep going. The rocks below are much more dangerous than the clouds I’m trying to reach. I can’t stop, but the path isn’t clear.

But I think that this happens for a reason. If you could see how far you have to go, would you even start? Would you reach for the top?

Sometimes we have to do the toughest bits of life one step at a time. We can’t handle any more than that. God knows that. We just keep forgetting. We can climb any mountain with the right equipment, helpful guides and one. step. at a time. You gotta focus on what’s right in front of you. Not worry about the end. You just have to breathe and move forward. Even an inch.

I just keep praying that God helps me put one foot over the other and take one more breath until I can see the way up.

Thank you, God, for my legs, body, strength, determination, brain and your will.