Monthly Archives: April 2014

HELP!! No, really, please help…

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Good Friday

Yesterday was Good Friday. My Honey and I went to church with some of our kiddos, then we grabbed a bite to eat before going to a really late showing of “God’s Not Dead” at the theatre. I was determined to get in touch with what Easter is all about. It seems I am too busy with other stuff most of the time, so I welcome such times that I can be “forced” to spend time with Him.  I’m not proud of this revelation, just being real…
I’ll be honest. I’ve been sitting back waiting to see the reviews come in on the 3 Bible/Christian movies that have come out recently. In the past I have felt that most Christian movies are a bit corny and the acting is over-the-top. I know I’m not supposed to say that, but I am of the opinion that if non-believers go to see these movies, they should not be laughing or groaning through most of the scenes. I spent much of my life not believing in God, and I remember seeing “those” movies during that time in my life. There was rarely any good or lasting emotion evoked in me. I felt like I was usually being scared into believing in a loving god who would protect me if I chose him, but who would allow me to be tortured if I didn’t. I never chose Him back then because it felt dishonest, like I wouldn’t be choosing Him as much as I was terrified of the alternative. That wasn’t love and even though I didn’t know Him, I understood that much.
“God’s Not Dead” seemed like the best choice, especially since our college aged kids were going with us. I watched a few trailers. The acting looked good. The premise looked very interesting. The reaction I got from our children was less than enthusiastic.  They both asked if we could go see a different movie more than once.  Their dad told them that they could go and see a different movie while we went to GND.  They both declined seeing another movie, but I think they mostly did that because I have the power of mommy-guilt.  Sometimes I’m okay with that…  Like on Good Friday when I want to share some God moments with them…

Our younger children are part of a generation who scoffs at the church’s scare tactics of the past.  They also see through the emotional sway that some dramatic Christian movies, sermons, and songs attempt to have on people.  So, while they watched some Christian movies with their dad and I in recent years, they have been disappointed by less than great acting, over-the-top emotional blackmail and guilt tactics that they have experienced in many of them.  They have a hard time with the christianese and how perfectly Christians are often portrayed. 

They have a very genuine relationship with Jesus.  They revere Him, but they also see Him as an intimate friend who they want to be very authentic and real with.  They have helped me to see Him for who He really is and to get past seeing Him as someone who always judges me and is never happy with anything I do.  We all have a great passion for helping others to discover Him and want genuine relationship with Him, so I am thankful that we are accountable to one another about such things (most of the time).

Church was truly lovely.  I had to work to focus on what this season is all about at first, but the cool thing is because that is obviously a struggle for a bunch of people, our Good Friday service was completely focused on helping us go “there” together.  As we went through each day of Holy Week leading up to Good Friday, we read the biblical account, we worshipped through song, we watched clips of last year’s History Channel’s (I think) Bible movie and took communion.  I typically feel overwhelmed with guilt during the Passover season.  I feel humbled that He did that for me and ashamed that I continue to sin even when I’m fully aware of what He went through willingly for me and my sin.  This year I feel a deep sense of gratitude, more than guilt or shame.  I don’t mean that I don’t feel convicted about my sin.  I just mean that as I read about what He went through and I watched the horrific depiction on screen, I felt so loved by Him.  For just a moment I accepted His gift fully and I felt humbled in this really beautiful way, like a bride might feel the first time her loving groom sees her at the other end of the aisle and his face gives away how overwhelmed he is by her beauty, inside and out.

At dinner my babies expressed their hesitation about the movie we were going to and they teased me a bit.  I had done my research, so I held my own…  I think…  I also privately prayed that this movie would not be corny or have weak acting in it.  In the first few minutes, my kids were huddled up and giggling – we were the only people in the theatre until 5 minutes in, when 5 other people joined us.  At that point, they behaved themselves.  And I have to tell ya… It was pretty good.  I was NOT impressed with the very pretty Cassidy Gifford’s acting ability.  My daughter commented that she must’ve had some connections, because she was obviously not in this film because of her talent.  She is, in fact, Kathy and Frank Gifford’s daughter.  She was only in part of the first 1/2 of the movie, so that was a plus for us.  The acting by everyone else was very good.  Kevin Sorbo was excellent, as was Shane Harper who plays the main character, Josh.  Willie and Korie Robertson (Duck Dynasty) were very themselves and endearing.  The storyline was excellent and complicated and VERY believable, in my critical opinion.  I appreciated that the film explored other cultures/religions and didn’t villanize them. The conclusion was not all tied up in a perfect, pretty, deep purple bow that makes you roll your eyes.  It had some corny moments with a little bit of christianese, but that’s okay, I think.  Some of the highlights of my life have been corny and sprinkled with christianese…

One of the coolest part of my day was that in my daily Bible reading (on my phone, that I listen to more than read), one of the passages was Matthew 10:32-33  32 “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. 33 But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.  When we got to church that was one of the passages Rick shared in his message and again it was mentioned in the movie several times.  I always say I need to be hit over the head when He wants me to move… So, I consider myself hit!

I think we all enjoyed it.  I think my kiddos may even be glad they went.  I was reminded that He willingly died a horrific death for us because He loves us completely and unconditionally.  I was reminded that He calls on us to do uncomfortable things in His name because He wants more of us to accept this gift from Him and sometimes we are the reason people decide to give Him a chance.  The big picture is hard to see when I don’t step back away from the day-to-day “important” stuff I too often get buried under.   I’ve had this revelation before.  I long for the days when I was in regular, constant communication with Him.  Not much changes.   After a bit I typically return to busy and tired mode.  This wasn’t such a problem for me before I went to work full time and was part of a church where I knew people more intimately.  Changing churches is not an option, so I wonder what other people do.  How do busy people maintain a relationship with Him? – one where you speak to Him and more importantly, HEAR Him… 

I’ve been struggling with this for YEARS now and I sincerely need help.  I really would LOVE to hear from you, so leave your comments and suggestions below, please…

 

Satan, Bush and Being 9

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satan bush

This is not my story. I am telling it for someone else.

I used to love to visit my grandparents – both sets of them!  My mother’s parents lived in a big house and my grandma would almost always take me shopping when I spent a night or weekend with them.  She would take me out to lunch and we would look at girly stuff all day.  I treasure those times with my grandma.  My grandfather loved to read and we would read all of the Harry Potter books together each time one came out.  Now, by together I mean that he would challenge me to beat him and then he would be finished before I got to chapter 4!  I loved reading those books with him and feeling that kinship with my grandpa who could be distant and even angry much of the time.

My parents were very conservative and traditional Christians when I was very young.  This meant that they were also Republicans and that drove my grandfather crazy.  It was normal for him to attack my mother almost everytime we got together about how evil her republican candidates were, as well as Christians, in general.  Usually my mother would try to explain to him that she didn’t want to discuss this with him and that it was okay to disagree with each other.  He yelled a lot about this stuff.  I didn’t really understand it.  I was 9 years old.

It was summer time and I was going to spend the whole weekend with my maternal grandparents.  They came to pick me up.  My grandpa immediately started giving my mom and dad a hard time about President Bush, and they made light of it while my grandma and I talked about what we were going to do the next day.  We went out to eat on our way home and then I got to watch a movie before going to sleep that night.

My grandma used to always buy me instant strawberry oatmeal in the little envelopes.  I felt loved because she would do that just for me.  I think she had ALL of her grandchildren’s favorite breakfast food in her house at all times!  After breakfast and after I got ready to go shopping with my grandma, I was in the living room watching television with my grandpa.  I remember  a campaign commercial for George W. came on.  My grandpa began telling me how wrong my parents were for voting for him.  He told me a bunch of things about him that were supposed to be horrible, I guess, but I was 9, so I didn’t really understand what most of it meant.  Finally, at the end of his rant, he told me that George W. Bush was Satan!  Now that one I kind of understood, at least in a literal way, and I was horrified.

I sat on that for a few days, when for some reason, and I don’t remember why, I finally told my mom what happened at my grandparents’ home.  My mom was very upset.  She talked to my dad and then came to me and informed me that she would be discussing this with my grandpa when we went over there next.  Unfortunately, that was just a day or two later.

My siblings and I were at the other end of the house playing in the playroom when I heard my mom’s voice raised, telling my grandpa, “I would appreciate it if you wouldn’t tell our children that the President is satan.”  I also remember her asking him to respect their right to raise their children with their values, just as he raised his children with his.  It got a bit heated and at one point my grandpa was denying that he said anything about Bush being satan.  My mom responded that a 9-year old would not just fabricate such a thing and that to a child raised in a Christian home, being told by her grandfather that the President whom her parents were planning to vote for is satan was a HUGE deal and simply NOT okay.  My grandma finally went into the room where they were arguing and told my grandpa that he should not  tell his grandchildren such things and then told my mother that she was sure he didn’t mean anything by it.

I guess that meant that the discussion was over…

When we left a bit later that afternoon and I attempted to tell my grandpa good-bye, he stiffened up, and pulled back when I tried to hug and kiss him. He said not a word.  I remember feeling like I wished I never would’ve told my mom what happened and coming to the realization that I had done something really wrong when I did.

A week and a half later we were all heading to my grandparents’ house to celebrate my grandma’s birthday.  I was excited to see my cousins who lived a couple of hours away and knew they would be there because they came for Grandma’s birthday, even though they never came for anyone else’s in the family.  When we arrived, half of the family was already there and one of my cousins ran up to tell me that grandpa was going to give us rides on his “cadillac” golfcart.  I said, “Hi, Grandpa,” but he didn’t respond.  Then I asked him if I could ride with the other kids and he ignored me, again.  I asked him a few times and each time he ignored me.  I knew my grandpa would lash out if I asked him too many times, so after he loaded all of the other kids up and announced there was no more room, I waited for the next trip to ask him again.  When I did, he told me that there might be room on the next one, but not this time.  Several of my cousins were riding for the second time.  I decided to go in the house and use the bathroom.  Once in there I began to cry.  I was heartbroken and mad at myself for even saying anything about Bush being satan!  One of my uncles knocked on the door, so I wiped away my tears and tried to sneak out the door.  My uncle asked if I was okay.  I said, “Yeah,” and then I went out the front door as soon as I could, crawled into the roasting hot back seat of my parents’ car and cried my eyes out.  I knew I couldn’t let anyone know that I was upset, because if my grandpa could be that angry and cruel to me over the other incident, I didn’t want to see what would happen if my mom found out this time and confronted him again.

My mom was inside and was watching the rides with grandpa.  She tells me she knew how upset he still was, so she was watching to see if he’d let me ride or not.  When he drove by the second time without me on there, she began looking for me.  By the time he drove by with the third bunch of grandkids and I was still not on, she was in full mama-bear mode and was looking everywhere for me.

Suddenly the car door swung open and my mom found me, crying and sweating in the back seat crouched down on the floor.  She was so full of emotion, I felt scared.  She asked me what had happened and why I was crying.  I told her that I was sorry I had tattled on grandpa.  I told her I wouldn’t do it again.  I told her repeatedly that it was all my fault that he was leaving me out and I begged her not to say anything…  She was shaking as she told me to wait there and she would be right back.  Minutes later I heard her voice and my grandma’s voice pleading with my mom just before the door opened and my siblings all piled into the car.  My mom told her that we were leaving and she was not going to discuss why.  They hugged good-bye and we pulled out of the driveway and headed home.

My mother was livid.  She kept reassuring me that this was not my fault.  She was crying, but I understood even then that the tears were not for her, but for me.  She apologized for allowing that to happen.  And the one thing I remember most is that she turned around, looked me straight in the eyes and said, “Your grandfather is an asshole.  You did NOTHING wrong and no grandfather should EVER treat his grandchild the way you were treated today.”  My parents were very old fashioned about respect, so this made a HUGE impression on me.

Years later my mom apologized to me for all of this.  She said her one regret was that she didn’t confront her father that day or at some point.  She felt as if she didn’t really protect me because after a short time, we began visiting again and nothing was ever resolved. In all of the emotion of that day, she felt that she was protecting me because I had begged her not to say anything, but later it felt like it was too much to confront, so instead she just kept a more watchful eye on her children, but kept silent about it. Looking back, it’s telling to me that my grandparents never asked my mother what happened that afternoon when we all rushed off before the celebration was ever started.

I realize now that I just accepted that as normal when I was young.  My grandfather regularly got angry with his children and grandchildren and rejected them and then they just moved on.  It was a common occurence for my grandpa to become angry and kick someone out when we had a family gathering. It was normal to be manipulated into feeling bad if you spoke out against such treatment and we were supposed to internalize our pain and not tell other people.  Making waves, confronting bad behavior did not fare well in this sweep everything under the rug community.  It took my mom a long time to break away from that way of thinking, but she did because she wanted us to have healthier and more honest lives.  She still struggles with being real at times and she still has moments when she tries to run back to what was “normal” for most of her life.  I don’t struggle with it.  I refuse to live in that because I’ve seen the pain that comes from it.  I still carry it with me…

A Rough Week…

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james 5.16 beach

It’s been a rough couple of weeks, Sister!  Two weekends ago our youngest son, totaled his car.  Not a scratch on him!  For such a terrible incident, it couldn’t have been more perfect, really.  The accident happened right in front of the Austin Police Department and it was the other driver’s fault, so there was no argument about it, and from what my son says the other people took full responsibilty and were very nice.  Both parties had insurance – HUGE!  NO ONE was injured – all that really matters… especially after I saw the pictures of his car.  Aaron was completely focused on losing his car, the financial loss, the loss of freedom, the inconvenience.  I know this is somewhat normal for a 19 year old guy, but this mama understands how little stuff means and how much the people that you love mean!  I think the poor boy was in shock.  After a few days he seemed to understand how lucky he was and put things in perspective.

On Sunday my Honey started complaining that he felt like he was getting the flu and that he had pain on his abdomen around a little bump from what he thought was an ingrown hair.  I have to be honest.  I thought he was being a little dramatic.  He wasn’t running a temp and he was eating just fine.  We called our doctor’s office Sunday evening and the answering service took his information and assured him the office would call first thing Monday morning.  I knew he was for real when he decided to call in sick on Monday.  He NEVER calls in sick.  My Honey is a workaholic and he would have to be almost dying to not go to work.

I called him at 9:30 a.m. on Monday to see what the doctor’s office had said and he told me they hadn’t called him, yet.  He tried calling again, only to reach the answering service who again told him that they had relayed his prior message and would do so again.  They told him that it had been very difficult to reach anyone at the office for a couple of weeks.  UGH!!  So, I do a search on my computer, find four phone numbers for the office and begin calling all of them.  No one answers until I dial the last of the four!  I’m told that they can get him in next week and that they never got our message.  I explain to her how ludicrous this all is.  This is my husband’s health.  He called over the weekend, no one called back, no one is answering the phones, and no one seems to care.  ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!

She then tells me that they just got a cancellation at the office closest to us tomorrow morning…  How convenient…

Tuesday morning:  Bob says he’s not feeling great.  He feels like he is running a low-grade temp and doesn’t want anything to eat.  He looks a little pitiful, tired and pale. I go to work (a mile up the road) and tell him to call as soon as he knows anything.

He calls me four hours later from the doctor’s office to say that they want him to go to the emergency room at Seton (in Austin) as soon as possible because they can’t tell if he has a hernia or what is going on and they don’t have any equipment to find out.  Again… ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!  Couldn’t they admit him?  I’m baffled, Jeffy…

Caleb and my Honey pull up to the school to go to the ER.  My husband looks terrible.  He is red, his head looks swollen,  much of him looks swollen, and he is in great pain.  We drive to the hospital.  We are told because of his diabetes, his risk of gangrene is very great and they need to remove the “mass” as soon as possible.  They don’t have any idea what the mass is from and don’t seem concerned with that part of it, just that we need to get it out, get rid of the infection, and get my Honey’s temp down.  They tell us that surgery will be in two hours or less.

After an hour they rush into the room, tell us by some awesome stroke of luck the surgeon has arrived early and will begin surgery at any moment.  We are relieved, mostly, but still overwhelmed by all of this urgency.  We talk about it, prepare to be separated, ask various staff members what is going on in my hubby’s body and wait…

and wait…

Four hours later, they take us to pre-op.  I’m terrified by the information they’re giving me about diabetes, infection, gangrene. Honestly, just the word “mass” has me a little concerned.  I know people who have lost loved ones with diabetes after an incident as seemingly insignificant as a cut on a foot.  I’m very much alone except for facebook.  It is like a lifeline.  My friends and family are praying for us and that is what holds me up.  I don’t let my husband see any fear, of course.  I just keep telling him how glad I am that he is getting such great care and I know that by tomorrow, he will feel like a new man!

They come for him, finally, 7 hours after we arrived that afternoon. They tell me the surgery will probably take about an hour and then he’ll be in recovery for a couple of hours. They will contact me on my cell, which is at 14%… I rush to my car, which is in the parking ramp. I charge my phone for about 20 minutes or less and then head back to the OR waiting room quickly so that I’m there when they call. Only I get lost. I’ve only been here one other time, in July, for Bob’s polyp surgery and I stayed in one place for a few hours and then we went home. I am panicked and it’s after 8:00 p.m. WHAT IF I’M NOT THERE AND SOMETHING GOES WRONG?!?!?! WHAT IF HE NEEDS ME?!?!?!?!
I somehow find my way up to the floor where he will stay after surgery. The ironic part of this is that we were there for a total of less than 5 minutes, but somehow this is what I remember. There are several nurses writing on charts in the hall outside his room, so I ask one of them if she can tell me where I can find the OR waiting room because I’m lost and if they try to contact me I won’t be there… She tells the other nurses that she’ll be back in a minute, puts her things down and takes me to the elevator… But, wait, there’s more… Then she gets on the elevator with me, takes me to the floor I need to be on and walks me to the waiting room! This is HUGE hospital and this was a journey… When we reach the waiting room, I begin to thank her and it comes out in lumps of incomprehensible gratitude covered in tears. I will carry this kindness with me and choose to honor it by passing it on as often as I am able. The other very kind woman at the desk then tells me that it will be at least 2 more hours before my Honey is out of recovery, but that he did very well in surgery.
My youngers call me to see how their dad is doing and I ask them to come and sit with me. I explain that I am having a hard time and I feel very alone in this big place. I need them. Less than 15 minutes later, my babies are hugging me and sitting by my side. We go to the vending machines, buy stuff I would NEVER ordinarily purchase, let alone injest. We even laugh a bit. I am blessed that they are so like their daddy in this way – making me laugh even when I’m miserable. It blesses me and amazes me and sometimes it drives me crazy! When we return to the waiting room, only 20 minutes have passed, but I decide to call about my husband’s progress in spite of being told it will be another hour. HE’S IN HIS ROOM WAITING FOR US!!!!
We zip around the halls to the elevator, take it up to the 5th floor and find our way to his room. I brace myself for how he will look because he looked so unwell before surgery and I assume he will look worse after going through the operation. I can’t believe what I see when I walk into his room. He looks better than he has in a week. His color is good. The swelling is gone. He is smiling… My heart is singing!!
Wednesday & Thursday: We spend the next couple of days helping him to heal and focus on getting his blood sugar levels down so that he can heal. They tell us every different thing depending on who we talk to and when we talk to them, but mostly it’s positive. When he finally gets to go home Thursday evening, he is doing well and will need homecare for his wound several times each week.
He is doing really well. His blood sugar is WAY down and his wound is nearly closed up. Smooth, I tell ya…

Aaron is supposed to get his check from the insurance company tomorrow. He didn’t get nearly what he put into his old car, but he’s coming to terms with it, I think. They gave him a rental car, told him that it was for a few days and then when we called the rental company to see what time to return it, they told us that we weren’t required to return it, yet, and we probably had 30 days or until Aaron received his check. A week later they called to say we owe them over $200! So, we will be struggling with that soon… UGH!

This past Saturday our neighbors house caught fire. It looks like the upstairs is completely gutted. No one was home, they have renter’s insurance and much of their belongings were in the garage and untouched, AND both of their pets got out safely. I know the coming weeks will be a nightmare for them and I understand that they lost their pictures and other irreplaceable items, but they aren’t going to the hospital and they aren’t having a funeral, so I’m praising Him for protecting them. Stuff can be replaced. People can’t be.

Yesterday my oldest brother texted me that our father is in the hospital. They aren’t really sure what it is. He had a terrible headache and has lost vision in one of his eyes. They’re doing tests and suspect Arteritis. I looked up what that is. Apparently it is the inflamation of arteries. His symptoms fit the medical defintions I found online. I’m so sad my mom is alone in Florida worrying about him with no immediate support. I hope their network of Florida friends has gathered around them. I’m praying for him… and her…

That’s a whole other blog…

Heck, that’s a trilogy…

It’s been a crazy couple of weeks, I tell ya… But the one constant in all of this junk has been reaching out, asking for prayer and receiving support in exponential abundance. I feel emotionally exhausted, but lifted up so lovingly, that my faith is strengthened and my heart is full.
Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. James 5:16

BLESSED…