Sunday, July 29, 2012

Today has been a day that I am writing in my heart, and it's about to get even better.  Nathan returns home in about an hour from being at teen camp all week.  I have missed him terribly, the kids have missed him tons...but in my heart I know he needed to be where he was this week and am just looking forward to having his physical presence in our home again. 

I don't talk often of my nieces and nephews here, mostly because I am afraid if I mention one, another will feel left out and so..... suffice it to say these ladies and gentlemen (some of whom were my 'practice' babies) totally have my heart and I consider it a huge privilege that they actually want to be around us almost 40 people and our young children.

Three of my lovely young nieces spent a night or three with us last week, along with one of their sweet friends.  They make my heart happy.  I am honored that they share some of their young lady life secrets with me, and they have no idea how very much they teach me.  Part of them are here again tonight and a few more will come tomorrow as they do every summer.  We will spend the bigger part of this week together, playing in the day and doing VBS in the evening.  I'm praying for a beautiful, bonding week for us.  I get to see a bit of myself in each of them and be reminded of the ups and downs of's a tough time, truly.

Church this morning was fabulous.  Fabulous.  Lots of tears, lots of joy, lots of prayer and it just felt good.  The sermon hit home with me and resonated with my perception of life so well, other parts of it caused me to pause and challenge myself.  I love that!

There are times I am trying to sing/praise/worship and for whatever reason I am not fully there.  I think it's usually preoccupation or pride but I love the times I am able to let go and fully be in God's presence (despite or in addition to the presence of others).  I sat with one of my nieces who happens to be a snuggle bug and it  was a comfort to hold her hand as we prayed, sang and I let my tears flow.  During one song, I got out of my seat and knelt on the chair before me to pray.  I am much of the time so worried about others thinking I'm a weirdo (finding out if they are going to think that, they are going to regardless) or that I am not doing it 'right', I hold myself back.  I had no thought process regarding kneeling to pray, my heart just knew this is how it needed to worship God this morning and there I better way to bask in the warmth of God's sunshine.  I love when I am overwhelmed with God's love like this and I ask myself how often he wants to love me like this but I play the come here, get away game like a champ. 

There was healing in my heart today with some relationships.  That was a blessing. 

I'm also getting to the point of resolve and forgiveness in others.  I have thought hard, I do not believe forgiveness and reconciliation go hand in hand, nor do I believe forgiveness and division go hand in hand.  It is calming after praying and thinking to know in peace where my heart is. 

May you find peace in your now, in your tomorrow and in your yesterday.

Be blessed.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Good morning!

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.  Psalm 143:8

I shared this verse with a friend last night as my prayer to her for today, and it has ended up being my own prayer.  I woke up heavy hearted.  You know that feeling when you wake up all happy because it's a new day and then it hits you...the memory of something not right in your current life that is weighing heavily on you.  That's what I first felt.  Then this verse popped into my heart and I'm so thankful for that.

I walked this morning for an hour and a half.  I have skipped out on walking for over a month 'because of the heat' (or so I say).  A few moments into my walk, I bumped into my Dad who was having his morning walk.  He's wearing sandals because his tennis shoes hurt his big toe.  I hate that he's wearing sandals because they seem to make his shuffly kind of gate even more pronounced.  The open toe on them is not good for his walking, kind of trips him up.  So I decided to join him for his walk.  For about thirty minutes we walked and I listened to him talk of things that irritate him; of my Mom's delicious cooking and her need to have a hip replaced; of his idea to put awning all around the house and of course...I listened to the latest tractor/lawn mower stories and we talked about my van and Nathan's truck and how they were holding up.  I held his hand for a bit as we walked along the street.  I love my Daddy's big, strong, callused man hands.  I used to love driving his work truck because his steering wheel smelled like his hands...a combination of cologne and grease from changing peoples tires and messing with their engines. It's odd to be holding his hand in a form of protection when he has always been the one to hold my hand and offer the protection.   I love my Daddy and I hate that he is fading away.  I got to walk him home and hug my Momma and tell her about my hurt heart.  There is nothing like telling my Momma, no matter how old I am - she is all safety and comfort to me. She is my heart and I am desperately sad that I can do nothing to better what is her reality right now.

For the latter half of my walk I had a beautiful conversation with a beloved friend.  I heard her say some things to me and I had to remind myself that they weren't judgements, just her input.  I was thankful for her feedback, it's given me food for thought so I have much to ponder and pray about.  She is a wise friend, an imperfect friend and a safe friend.  I love that she cares enough to hear my heart and trusts me enough to share her own heart. 

We talked about my blogging and I guess some people take it personally.  I knew when I decided to write honestly from my heart that I was setting myself up to be judged.  Considering the gift of healing my writing brings to me, and to a few others  -- I have decided to trust the process.  I will continue to write from my heart and know God will send the people who will find value in it, and also those who will contribute value to me.  So for now, if it's the way it is....I am okay to be Noah in the desert, as was so eloquently put.

After this, I recieved a call from another friend.  Another beautiful conversation, very similar to the first, though a little harder and a lot more tearful on my part.  Again I got to share my heart, hear her heart and gain much insight and value.  Again I was given things to weigh and choose to take into my heart as truth or let go as loving thoughts to grow from.  I'm taking both options this time. 

I am in a place of feeling convicted of so many wrongdoings in my past but also in a position of seeing some things I have done really well...and some in between.  Not one cancels another out.  I am growing and risking and learning and I trying to implement.  I don't like to be judged, I see that I clearly have been judged.  I don't like to be criticized in a mean spirited way, and I have been.  I don't like when I become feisty and insolent and indignant, I have done that.  I don't like when I hide and mistrust and let fear rule, I have done that. 

And all of it is okay, because I am learning to be different.  I wish to threaten or hurt no one with my life, I wish to live well and as my friend Darla says, 'like Jesus with skin on.'  Sometimes I fail an attempt, as I am human - I am not Jesus.  I am going to keep running the race with my head held high; for in the end only He and I know my heart  and this is the one truth that will reside with me. 

Blessings on this Friday.


Thursday, July 26, 2012

Where am I?

This has been a wacky week.  Tonight my heart feels broken and I want to crawl in the covers with my babies and not write.  Not write about the things that have caused my brokenness, because seeing it here makes things too real. 

Above all, I want to continue down the road of healing.  God is making me a new creation and I understand that I have to lean into life and embrace all of it, even the pain.  To me, this is part of trusting God. 

I mentioned previously that I had some hard conversations to be had.  I felt God wanted me to be brave and to accept.  I knew this meant stepping into the arena with hard and hurt and giving all I had to give despite the outcome.  And I know that the part of accept means to grieve or rejoice; let go or hang on.  I knew I had none of the answers and all of the anxiety that comes with not knowing.  I knew the pain of knowing I was not trusting God and being brave was another version of letting fear run my life and I knew I was ready to do different.  And so I began with  a prayer, and another prayer, and another prayer. 

I had the first conversation.  It was anything but pleasant.  I don't honestly know if things are 'better', they might be worse before they get better.  I do know that God has us both in his hands and I'm going to all I have to give to this relationship in a brave and accepting way.  I love my friend, regardless of what comes. 

The other person I had hoped to converse with opted to not have the conversation.  I already feel betrayed in this relationship, and to hear her lack of desire to talk was all it took for me to become a temporary heap of tears.  Listening to old tapes....I'm not worth the effort.  After some serious boohooing, I began to pray.  Even now as I write, I hurt and I cry but I know that tonight when I fall back into bed I will be falling into God's arms.  I know I am being held by him right now and I can softly hear the whisper in my soul.  I feel like God is saying, 'baby girl, you were brave; now accept.'  I'm trying God, can you help me? 

A lovely friend commented on my previous post.  Her words have been beautiful music to my hurting spirit.  I am reminded by her that others can only give me what they have to give and that it is okay for me to let go and walk away stronger than I was before.  It is hard for me to let go without resolution, but I'm receiving training in this like never before.

I guess here is the true test.  I stepped in and went where my heart led me.  One result was good but could be better, the conversation that didn't happen hurt the worst.  I trusted God and stepped in.  I was a brave because he makes me brave.  Now that I see I have not been able to find peace in a conversation, I am left to ask God for that peace.  I must accept that it does not come from a person.  I hurt.  God didn't ever promise me I would not hurt.  But he's here.  He loves me and tonight I will ask him for the peace only he can give. 

A friend called conversations with God a God dyad.  I loved that.  I am so loved and I love deeply. 
My precious Lord, Thank you God for hearing my heart, I am hurting horribly but in my hurt I feel you.  Someone accused me of being a fraud, of not living out what I write about.  That stung.  I thought deeply about it.  It's not a truth about my heart, I know that for sure.  God, I am a far cry from perfection, I am only me.  I feel changes in me and I know you are making me new.  Help me continue to be patient with myself and with others. Help me to grow in your image.  I am so blessed.  I look at my sleeping angels, I think of the work my husband is blessed to be doing right now.  My nieces and nephews, siblings, parents and extended family, my friends, the love you surround me with and the life you give me....I AM BLESSED.  Would you please watch closely over my Daddy as his dementia steals more of his mind and please protect my precious Momma who is carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders.   I am a little afraid, I could not make this without you in my life.   God help me to continue being brave and help me to accept...for I only have the snapshot and you have the panoramic view.  Amen.

God did this so that, but two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged.  We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.  It enters the sanctuary behind the curtains.  Hebrews 6:18-19

There is no fear in love (dread does not exist), but full grown (complete, perfect) love turns fear out of doors and expels every trace of terror!  For fear brings with it the thought of punishment, and (so) he who is afraid has not reached the full maturity of love (is not yet grown into love's complete perfection.)  1 John 4:18

Monday, July 23, 2012

Be brave and accept

I have a whole lot of work to do on myself.  So much that if I think too far ahead, I just want to quit before I begin. 

Tonight, I got to process with a very dear friend.  I called her because I thought I needed a listening ear and perhaps a little feedback.  An hour later, I found myself sitting on the back of Nathan's truck with an abundance of warm, quiet tears running down my cheeks.  It's funny how God works out scenarios that are so different than the scenes I have thought out and planned.

I have been hurting, aching deep in my heart over the loss of friendships.  I have written that before.  I don't write the details because as much as I am feeling sad and hurt, it is not my wish to lash out and dishonor .  I have tried to reach out to a couple of those hearts no longer tied to my own; there has been no response.  Ouch. 

I am the original peacemaker, I am the good girl, I am the one to make things right, to make them okay.  I try and I try to forgive, to let them not give up who I am in the process.  I try but I have failed.  This is why I called my friend.  I want to 'get it', to make sense of these losses so that I may be at peace about it. 

My friend asked me this...'Who treats me with less dignity and respect than I would like to be treated?"  Ah...the names come to my heart without hesitation.  I see the people vividly in my mind's eye.  'How do they do this?' Let me count the ways. 
Then...'who taught them to treat me that way?'  This is clear as me, myself and I move to the forefront.  Finally...'who taught me that it is okay for friends to treat friends like this?"  And goes back to my Grandma again.  Every time I think I let all of the ick go, God shows me just another way I'm letting the ick run my life. I'm thankful he shows me; I think.  No, I am.  I am thankful.  I'm just a wee bit tired.

As I tell my friend through my sobs that I don't want to be the puppy with my tail tucked between my legs chasing in hopes of a friendship crumb; she reminds me what forgiveness is and what forgiveness isn't.  Forgiveness isn't acceptance of the way I have been treated; nor is it an invitation back into my life.  It is only forgiveness.  It is a gift for me.  I am reminded that I can, with a very sincere heart, listen and apologize for my part in someone's hurting heart.  Same rules apply as with forgiveness. 

I recognize, when people turn their backs on me; ignore me purposefully as we walk by one another; talk about me rather than to me; play nice in front of others, etc - I am brought back to childhood and I shrink down to fit the bill.  I hide.  I have hidden.  I have avoided.  I have sooooo much hard work ahead.  I am reminded that these heart relationships hold exponentially more value to me than the need to be right or good does. 

I weep.  I cIose my eyes and I transport myself to a place very special to me, a place only I can travel to.  I am leaning into the arms of Jesus, he covers and cradles me all at once.  It is here that I am 100% safe from any person, situation, pain, anything.  I am back in the womb safe.  Can I trust this in real life?  Can I step into something difficult trusting that although I cannot plan the outcome, and although I may HATE the hurt of the outcome; I AM SAFE.  I am held.  I am loved.  I am worth it. 

I hear clearly in my heart what I believe are direct words from God.  Be brave and accept.  I know exactly what this means and I know exactly what I must do. Outwardly living congruent to what is in my heart involves me taking steps forward, out of my box and directly into discomfort.  Am I worth it?  Absolutely.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.  Matthew 5:9
(Peacemaker is defined as 'One that makes peace, especially by settling disputes.'  I am trusting that applies to the disputes going on in my own heart.)

  I went further to look up definitions of peace and found...
1. The absence of war or other hostilities.
2. An agreement or a treaty to end hostilities.
3. Freedom from quarrels and disagreement; harmonious relations: roommates living in peace with each other.
4.  Inner contentment; serenity
I like that none of this indicates I must be responsible for fixing, none of it says I must settle or be a doormat and none of it says I have to even continue the friendship.  In my heart I must love, I must forgive and I must find peace.  I'm looking forward to doing different, to doing better.
May your life be filled with the love you deserve.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Silent Stalker

I hate my anxiety.  I hate that it takes over my mind and my heart sometimes before I have any forewarning.  And it's just there.  Solid darkness, all consuming.  Wondering if the next step I take will be a step into my death.  It comes in the form of a fog that echoes over my being while I slowly but surely become disconnected from life around me and fall into that dreamlike state that happens before the panic.  Voices become distant, conversations become separate from me, every sound and sensation is in the background, somewhere else. My stomach is sour, I am nauseated.  Logic, logic, please find me.  

 I I know I'm not crazy.  I know I somehow called these feelings up and I need to send them away - but they are stubborn.  I've learned to control it enough that the panic has become silent and stays within the confines of me.  Silent is scarier, in my own head and heart I struggle to stay in reality, in the moment that is life.  It comes from nowhere, sneaking up as stealthily as my shadow.  Logic, find me and grip me, please. 

Nobody knows I am here in this silent place, I'm not even sure I am there and I sure don't know how to get back quick enough.  So I move, I excuse myself to the bathroom or outside.  I splash water on me, I breath the changed air; in desperation I do anything to grasp reality and hold onto the logic.  It's only been a few moments, even seconds...but inside of me I have just felt eternal hell on earth.  I hate it, that monster called anxiety.

I think I made a connection to the cause of my silent stalker last night.  I was taught in no uncertain terms early in life (two posts ago will clarify), that I held the power to life and death.  If I was good, God would reward me. He was watching me always and if I was bad, he would punish me, with death or illness....mine or someone that I loved.  It was all up to me and depended on if I was a good girl or not.  I think I've carried this into my grown up life so when I am feeling guilty or not sure if I am doing the right thing, I punish myself. I long to be a good girl.

 I hear my own tapes.  God will punish you Sarah.  He's watching you.  You are such a good girl, God thinks you are so special.  And these tapes that I refused to acknowledge are loud, clear and clearly confusing to me.  I know.  I hear.  Now for the hard work in learning to rewrite the scripts on my tapes.  Ouch. 

Good news, I fully believe my tapes are nothing but LIES.  Heartbreaking that these lies came from someone I loved more than life, and who loved me more than life.  But her sweet soul was sick and so the lines between love and possesion became intertwined and the result is me.  God has given me truth.  He has given me new life. He has made me new. I have lived one way for 30 something years and now am being given the gift of a chance to learn different and be free.  Thankful.

As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.  My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.  When can I go and meet with God?  Psalm 42:1-2

(I am learning to meet and walk with the living God now, not the God who lives to punish but the God who is here to truly give life.)

Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.  Psalm 34:5 (And so I hold my head high, believing and searching for the TRUTH and knowing I am a child of God, a survivor rather than a martyr and his heart of joy.)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

trust. surrender. belief. hope.

Today, Nathan and I will be closing on a big ole loan that will allow us to add on and renovate our home.  Maybe not big to some people, to us it is HUGE.  In October, we have booked a trip for myself, Nathan, John and Stella to go to Disneyworld. 

These are things that involve trust. surrender. belief. hope for a bright future.  Things I struggle tremendously with grasping and hanging onto.  As a matter of fact, I struggle to get my words written right now because my 'what if's' try to creep in.  For this moment, I will be taking the power away from my what if's and choosing trust. surrender. belief. hope for a bright future.  Apprehension and excitement befall me at once.  The apprehension this time isn't enough to squelch the excitement of what's to come, that is a glorious feeling.

The kids don't know a thing about Disneyworld.  They do believe we are going to the beach in October but we aren't telling until we arrive on Disney property and they can see.  The ancipation for us in surprising them with this gift grows daily, we are experiencing our own child nature in giggling about our fun secret. 

Stella often dreams out loud about the day we get to go.  John usually tells her to stop b/c we can't afford Disneyworld but we will go to the lake or somewhere small.  He tells her by dreaming out loud she will make us sad b/c we can't go to Disneyworld.  I wonder what we have taught our children of living and life when I hear them act out my inner struggle.  Nathan and I both have on our lifeplan to do this, and we really are doing it.  Yes...the money has a zillion places it could've been utilized.  As my Mom says (and of course my Mom is always right...especially when I agree!), we will always need money but we won't always have this time to make memories, so make memories. 

We have looked for years at houses to buy and have finally decided on staying here and adding on.  This was my Grandma's house and it is time to make it ours.  It is our home but still her house, if that makes any sense.  My children will each have their own room.  Nathan and I will have a room with a lock on the door!  We will have bathrooms without a bathtub in it that makes me recoil.  We will have our home set up how it works for our family, in colors and comforts and smells that are unique to our family.  We will have our own furniture, or maybe we won't have furniture at all.  We will continue to grow and build beauty and identify how to live out and teach to our children a life of trust. surrender. belief. hope for a bright future.

Happy Thursday, may you hear a God whisper today.



Surely God is Sarah's salvation; Sarah will trust and not be afraid.  The Lord, the Lord, is Sarah's strength and Sarah's song; he has become Sarah's salvation.  - Isaiah 12:2

Saturday, July 14, 2012


She told me she loved me more than anything or anyone on this earth. 
She told me it was better if I stayed at her house tonight, there were too many other children at my own home.  Here, I was the 'only' one and here I wasn't a burden, I was a gift.
She told me nobody would ever love me like she did.
She told me I was such a good girl. Such a pretty girl.  Such a special girl.  She told me God sent me just for her to make up with the little girl she had lost during pregnancy because my Papa did something to make her and the baby sick. 
She told me all the 'truths' about my Mom and Dad, my brothers and sisters, she told me 'who' was to blame that I was born with a congenital heart defect.
She told me of all of my Papa's extramarital activities, and of her one true love-and how he had been taken from her life.
She took me shopping and bought me expensive things to show me how wonderful I was.
She taught me to love pretty lipstick, great shoes, fine clothing and lovely perfume, it was important to look and act like a little lady.
She and I slept in the same bed - my Papa slept alone in the other room because men just wanted women for one thing anyway.
She did not speak to me for two weeks at a time when I had 'disappointed' her, unless we were in front of other people.
She taught me her cooking secrets and she told me her deepest secrets - I didn't understand.  I understood I held the key to her happiness.
She taught me I held the power of the peacekeeper, the joybringer and the devastation maker.
All this...before I was my daughter's age - my daughter is seven.  Hard for me to swallow.

She was my Grandma.

She told me I was 'killing her'. 
She told me I was 'putting her in her grave early'.
She told me that God would punish me someday.
She told me to bring her flowers now, not to her grave.
She told me God was watching me.
She told me God wanted me to stay a 'good' girl.
She told me I was set apart to love her, I was so special.
She told me she would die without me.
She told me I was her angel.
She told me I was breaking her heart.
She told me I was making her crazy and sick.
She told me I was selfish.
She told me she loved me more than any other child or grandchild, she left them a letter when she was dying so they would 'understand' why.
She told me I was the kindest hearted person to ever walk this earth.
She told me I should feel guilty for having no conscience.

She was my Grandma.

She gave me tremendous power, the kind of power that devastates and makes you weak in the knees.  The kind of power a child does not want or deserve.  The kind of power that renders a soul powerless for a time. She loved me, truly she did.  And I loved her, absolutely. I honestly forgive her.  A daily choice.  I am still healing. 

She was my Grandma.  I am ME.

 I write this not to hurt or wound any person.  I write this to release it so it has no hold over me.  If another heart hears something in this that resonates with them and can bring any portion of healing to their life, I am doubly blessed.

I am  brave, worthy, loved by God and truly happy, I am an engaged and trusting Momma with the heart of a child and I am a surrendered, whole woman basking in the warmth of God's sunshine.  I have traveled this journey well and have the strongest desire to strengthen my joy, release my past so it does not define me and let my Jesus hold me tight....and he will.

"You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore."  Psalm 16:11

Friday, July 13, 2012

Whirlwind in Wonderland

Whew!  Since last Thursday it has been a whirlwind in wonderland...whimsy and joy have been drowned out by worry and a wild ride.  Not to worry, life lessons have taken a front seat.

My husband and I spent the weekend in Dallas volunteering for Pathways.  Awesome.  Hard.  I fought my own personal demons (anxiety, fear) the entire time.  I just heard so much that resonated with my story and brought up some tough issues for me to work through...all while serving the ones I was there for.  I fought that feeling of disconnection at times and I am proud to say, came through the weekend well.  Arrived home exhausted to the bone and absolutely rewarded in my heart.  Still working through some things I discovered for myself, as written in my earlier post. 

My Daddy had a full correction of his ileac and aortic aneurysms on Wednesday.  I feel that much of my weekend anxiety had to do with what was coming.  His last surgery recovery was difficult to say the least.  The physical part was great, the dementia and the anesthetic made for some very rough days.  Just as he was fully recovering, it was time to go in for the second surgery. 

Again, physically he did wonderful.  (Thank God).  The day of the surgery was extraordinary, Dad was cooperative and sweet and not alot more confused than usual.  Then came the evening.  The sundowning classic to dementia victims set in and seemed to last well into the next day.  I had come home to rest and slept so hard that I missed my Momma's 2:30 a.m. text telling me they had to restrain my Dad.  Grateful that two of my sisters woke for the text and were there.  Logically, I understand that restraints are quite preferable to him not laying flat, injuring himself further and bleeding to death.  Logically, I know that my Dad is one of the many, many patients that go through this (even without dementia).

Emotionally, it is so hard to know that my Daddy, my powerhouse and the lover of his baby being restrained to keep him safe but has no clue why b/c his mind is so fogged up he can't comprehend the current reality.  Reality.. my Mom and sisters were there to hurt and could really do nothing but observe and let the medical staff work.  Even worse, to imagine that this might be just a little glimpse of what is to come as the dementia progresses, even without the anesthetic.  Too. painful. to. bear.

Last night brought peace and rest; praying that the new day dawning continues to bring healing and calm. 

As I fell asleep last night with a sweet girl on one arm and a precious boy on the other, I woke a enough to hear the lyrics of the song playing during the movie trailer they were watching.  The movie was Alice in Wonderland...a very special story to me.  I have watched the movie with them a billion times and never listened to the lyrics.  The words that pinged me last night were sang in April Lavine's haunting melody and she kept asking 'is this real or is this pretend?' 

 In my anxiety, I have suffered a feeling where I am totally present and suddenly, I am silently fighting panic or staying connected to reality.  I have experienced an almost floaty, surreal feeling that leaves me feeling so detached I have to fight to get back to reality, back in touch with me.  In those moments, I have wondered 'is this real or is it pretend'?  Am I someone's made up story?  Am I a little remote control toy in life?  And I remember that perception is reality.  I am real.  I am here.  This reality gets oh so painful at times, but there is not other choice to be made for me.  In my reality also dwells everlasting beauty- so the fight to stay connected, even when it's terribly hard is incredibly worth it.

God has been sending heart friends to me left and right.  I am deeply grateful.  One of those friends sent me the following scripture, telling me that she is working on memorizing it.  I am joining her in this, though she doesn't know it yet.  I have kept it secret in case I'm not able to (stupid after stroke lack of confidence).  I'm telling her today.  I wanted to share, because it's so awesome and maybe it will be a tincture for your heart as well.  I especially like the thought of treading on a lion and a cobra!  :)

Psalm 91

1 Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.[a]
2 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”

3 Surely he will save you
from the fowler’s snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
4 He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
5 You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.
7 A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
8 You will only observe with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.

9 If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
and you make the Most High your dwelling,
10 no harm will overtake you,
no disaster will come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
12 they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

14 “Because he[b] loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call on me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Choices. Loud fear or soft trust?

More and more in my life I am seeing how often I let fear win out.  It's  scary how often I choose fear, even scarier how fear has become an innate response before I even know what's happened. Fear has been my friend for so many years now; a near enough friend that I have a literally have a small demonesque vision of him (Fear) in my head and heart.  Crazy?  no.  Creepy?  yep.

 Living life where trust is a natural response is what I yearn for and work. Learning to do different is a long, slow process and I often wish for the struggle to stop and for trust to overwhelm and take such a strong hold that there is NO room left for my old comfy friend Fear.  I am coming to realize that I may e

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Choosing differently, choosing forgiveness

Tonight I feel a little blue.  I have really had to take a truthful inventory of myself this week to try to decipher what the current contents of my heart are.  Sadly, everything contained there is not beautiful and is is really sometimes so HARD to honestly look at the unpretty.  Again, I am reminded that my intrinsic worth is not in any outside source, not in myself and only in my God.  It seems to be my natural inclination to believe the way I am feeling is dependent on someone else's actions or inaction when in reality, this is the exact opposite of what is true.  My feelings, my thoughts, my actions are totally independent of other people's responses, reactions and outcomes.  This is a hard pill to swallow.  It makes me see, yet again, that I am not in control.  period.  But God is and although that should be a great comfort, I often insist on fully exhausting myself asking why? how? when? why? how? when? before I am willing to relinquish any sense of control and surrender.  And surrender is my lifelong goal.  My daily choice and sometimes my daily struggle.  I feel so wounded and I do not want to repeat the past by bandaging the wound (covering it up) and moving on; yet I am beginning to understand that some things and some people simply do not get my energy and so I must forgive and heal my heart and let theirs go.  It's a choice, right?

Today, my sweet son John made an odd request.  He asked to go see Great Grandma and Great Grandpa's gravesite.  I didn't really want to do this today.  I've taken my kids before but they were to young to remember I guess.  The Grandparents aforementioned are John and Pauline Puroff.  If you read previous posts or know me well, you know these people are main characters in my the story of my life.  We did go.  Actually, I took a picture of my children standing near the headstone, where a sweet picture of my Grandma and Papa are colorfully and cheerfully presented.  Whew!  Always brings a rush of feelings.  This is the first time I have been there (they have been gone since 1992 and 1995) that I felt not one shred of anger and bitterness.  Rather, I felt the greatest pity for my Grandma.  She was sad.  She was angry and she was sick.  On the switchside, she gave me some beautiful gifts.  It feels good to really forgive.  I still wish things had been different, I guess.  I try not to wish that to much because my childhood gave me a tender and compassionate heart for others.  I may have been born with that, but it gives me comfort to believe it was deepened because of my experiences as a little girl.  I see that even thinking about her brings up a plethora of feelings but am happy to be choosing to release lots of the bad ones.  Understanding that forgiveness is not offering my acceptance and thanks for a childhood gone wrong; it is simply forgiving what was and letting it go because it is so very heavy to carry around.

Tomorrow, Nathan and I leave to TA for Pathways.  This is the program that has forever changed our lives and we are honored and feel led to give back what we have received.  Every trip I make there, every life I see changed, my trust in God gets stronger and stronger.  In no way do I feel He has something to 'prove' to me, it's just beautiful to see Him utilize us to be His hands and feet, or as my friend Darla says..."Jesus with skin on".

Tonight, I have some serious business to talk to God about.  I am sometimes afraid to ask, because I know he's listening and have to question if I really want what I am asking and believing for.  So, my prayer tonight....

Heavenly Father, I am a leaning quite a lot toward hurt feelings, dwelling on broken relationships and giving much energy to how deeply my heart aches.  God, I am asking you to help me see barriers that are keeping me from drawing closer to you.  Would you please help me understand and really know that I am not in control of other's actions and help me release the brokenness to you so that I can truly heal?  And God, please hold in the palm of your hand my loved ones as well as the ones I struggle with.  Help me see there is a reason for the struggle, help me open the eyes of my heart.  I desperately want to step into what you have for me this weekend so that those I am around can see and feel you clearly.  I am thankful for this opportunity and for the healing it continues to bring to my heart, I am thankful for the closeness that Nathan and I share in this common goal and for the hearts of service you have given us.  Please be with our babies, family and friends this weekend. Bless this time for each of us. I am thankful again to get to be a part of your work.  I want to trust you wholeheartedly and I struggle with that often. I want to surrender my life to you and step without question into what you have laid out for me, but I need your help.  I am weak alone.  Help me remember that surrendering to you does not break me like I understand broken but makes me whole like nothing else can. Thank you a billion times over for my blessings.  Thank you for this life.  I love you.  In Jesus name I pray, your baby girl....your princess sarah

Be blessed my friends.   

"You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother's womb.  I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Your works, and that my soul knows very well.
Psalm 139:13-14

Cause me to hear Your lovingkindness in the morning, for in You I do trust, cause me to know the way in which I should walk, for I lift up my soul to You.
Psalm 143:8

Monday, July 2, 2012

A priceless princess begins to understand

My name is Sarah Antonija.  The Hebrew meaning of Sarah is princess.  Antonija is after my Grandma's middle name.  It is Bohemian in origin and the meaning is priceless.  So here I am, the priceless princess.  Corny?  Wait, it gets much better.   I went further to look up the definitions of priceless and princess.  (You may think they are self explanatory, but I am most always seeking a deeper answer).

Princess - A woman who is a ruler of principality; a hereditary ruler; a noblewoman with various status of rank; wife of a prince; a woman regarded as having the status or qualities of a princess.

Priceless - So precious that it's value cannot be determined; used to express great and usually affectionate amusement.

Names and their meanings are hugely important to me.  The meaning doesn't have to be in the defintion, it can be personal or familial - whatever, names are significant.  You carry them around your entire life.  It's obvious when strolling the parenting aisle of a name books abound.  I even had a book in which not only was a baby name meaning given, but a also stereotypes of what people think when they hear a name (based on public surveys).  I don't consider it conceit that I believe the descriptors of my name are quite fitting.  I consider it faulty that I have lived my life being afraid to live out who I am as a child of God-  His princess.  His priceless princess.  I honor the gift of the truth now that I understand, this is who I am, this is who he created me to be.  My name is not by accident.  I am willingly and purposefully letting go of that which I have clung to which hurts my heart.  It's a daily process and an often moment by moment choice to do different.  But seriously, how cool is it to have waken up to the realization that I really am a true princess?  Even cooler will be watching myself continue to put my trust in my God as I learn to step into who he made me to be.

I've been a little overwhelmed lately.  We are getting ready to renovate our home; the loan process has been a long one.  My Dad's dementia tends to be a whole family disease process and though there is beauty in the ugly, sometimes it's hard to find.  Nathan and I go to Dallas every couple of months to volunteer at Pathways, the organization that changed our family, our marriage, our children's futures.  We desperately want to give back the gifts God has given our hearts.  Our son is going into fifth grade, our daughter into second....time flies.  Just really full plates.  I remember to be thankful that my plate is full and that I can choose to eat it one bite at a time.  The natural consequence for me when I get overwhelmed and lose my focus = caring for myself goes down the tube.  My walks /writing/praying (my sanity savers) dissipate, fast food replaces our home cooked family dinners, our home becomes a disaster area, and I get infamously grouchy.  Not pretty.  What do I usually do when I hit this point?  Sometimes, but less often, I isolate.  More often I talk, and I talk, talk, talk....which leads me to the point of this post.....

Yesterday at church an Elder spoke briefly of although we may be in the battle of our lives, victory better than we have ever known it may be right around the corner.  Believing the best is yet to come and the worst is behind us is not my natural inclination.  But I know God has his best for me, so I try not to doubt.  And I very humanly fail.  As he spoke, my tears started to fall.  I did nothing to hold them back.  I let them flow freely for the next hour.  I had no shame.  That's very new for me.  I used to do all I could to not cry in front of people.  SARAH SMILES.  That was the rule.  Well....Sarah is working real hard at being authentic so tears happen, and they happen often.  They do not make me weak, they make me feeling.  And that is so good.  Because if I can't feel the pain I sure can't feel the joy.  It hit me as my tears were flowing, I'm kind of lonely.  And I talk way too much.  Not only do I talk too much, I don't always talk to who I should be talking to.  I just kept having these aha moments.  I have lost three really good friends since going to Pathways.  One to a stupid argument, one to a slow toxic distancing and one to anger ruling a heart.   Looking back, they weren't such healthy places to be. I have hurt deeply over these friendships, even more so because my children have lost dear friends due to grown up behavior.  I have been mourning and am making a concious choice to let go and replace the mourning with gratitude.  Sure, the relator in me may alway wonder a little bit why things worked out this way and what I could've done.  In the end,  I see that God has a gift for me here.  In pruning certain people from my world, I have been forced to reach out to others.  More tears as I realize the ones I have been reaching out to are total comfort zones for me.  They are a soft place to land.  And that is okay.  What is not okay is that I am seeking out those who 'need' me so I can enter into the friendship with a purpose.  I can rescue, enable, have my self defeating behaviors approved of. 

 OK God, I'm getting it.  I go to class last night and the first topic is defining friendships.  What should they be?  Give/take, safe, trusting, encouraging, loving, honest, fun and so on.  I realize I am repeating old patterns and settling in for what is easier, comfortable, sometimes discouraging, distrustful and not fun.  What am I doing?  Am I so needy that I accept whatever is given?  No.  I am not.   I am priceless, I am a princess and more than that I am worthy of true friendships.  How many people have I been hurting and missing out on because I have not stepped out of my box.  Too many.  I am missing out on those friendships that exist purely because I am me and they are they, not because I am rescuing or filling a need.  And I believe those authentic friendships are worth some heavy duty searching because to have friends like that will feel amazing! 

 The biggest blessing, I already have the most amazing, loving, cherished and cherishing friend right in our home; he is more than my roomie, he is my heart.  How often have I blown my Nathan off because I had already spent so much energy talking, talking, talking to the wrong people and what did it do to his heart to know that I had no sharing energy left for him?  I know what it costs my heart to 'get it' and I know beyond a doubt that I am ready to do different. 

Sunday, July 1, 2012

The history...

Becoming less of me....
  1. This morning, as I went for my walk, a song came on Pandora and the words in the chorus that kept pinging my heart were about becoming less of me and more of Him. These words reverberated in my head and heart all the day long. Tonight, we went to visit a new church. Guess what the sermon was titled? “Becoming less so He can become more”. That’s right. Straight from Matthew 3:30, “He must become greater, I must become less.” I am feeling a little tug that there may very well be value in this message for me. Now I am just trying to wrap my head around exactly what that message is. And therein lies the problem…
    The past couple of weeks have been a wee bit hard. I think I’m doing pretty well at staying engaged, finding value in the moment, surrendering my false belief that I have control over the outcome of things and staying in tune with my feelings. How surprised I was this morning when it hit me that I had the most challenging of times getting out of my head thinking and into my heart. Dadgumit! So, I still have some work to do. I have compartmentalized all of my hurts in different areas of my head; like a shadow box with different sections assigned to different stories. The realization that I have been doing this stung. I see in this pattern that this is my beginning phase of going numb so that I can work robotically to do what I must do all the while preserving my sanity. Alas, I am assured there is another way…one that reminds me to find the touch of God even in the presence of supreme ugliness.
    What’s up? I have ‘lost’ three dear friends over the past few months. Not lost to death, or moving away or anything terribly dramatic. A result of woundedness, laziness, fear…whatever….losses. No matter how beneficial and wonderful my other gains in life; those losses hurt. So…I wrapped them up each in their own package and placed them in a corner of the shadowbox in my mind.
    My Daddy’s dementia…well, I have to laugh at some of the experiences we’ve had over the last couple of months or I’d be crying every second of the day rather than every second day. A glimpse into my Mom’s world + the pain my Daddy feels from knowing his mind is drifting away + thinking about days ahead + every other quotient that adds into this situation = heart breaking hurt for everyone. But we all have to persevere, keep on keeping on. How in the world do you do that when something so painful is happening to people you love more than life itself? I know…wrap another package up…there’s still room in my shadowbox for this.
    My precious 96 year old Granny was hospitalized for a bit, she’s now in a rehab center. She has the most magnificent peace about her. It’s watching my Momma and Aunt care for her, taking turns so she was never left alone at the hospital, running themselves ragged. And I wonder how I could fix this for them…how anyone could fix this for them. I see the weary on their faces and I am pained. I don’t want to hurt like this. Another box filled….
    Family trouble. Setting boundaries is rarely a welcome event and sometimes the disassociation of family members from you is the healthiest option but can be overwhelmingly devastating. To feel unloved as you are by anyone hurts, but by your family; or your husband’s family is a wound hard to heal on any level. Oh well…give it a pretty little bow and put it away.
    One of the loveliest children in our youth group has a sweet Momma who is in a coma in the hospital, day 14. An uncommon accident of falling out of her hammock and hitting her head on something caused horrible brain injury; she remains in neuro critical care. I go visit, Nathan visits. We bring treats, water, prayers and company and the pain is unbearable. You know where this one is going for sure, and my shadowbox is beginning to get a bit weighed down.
    A friend of a friend who was killed in a car accident and left two teen girls parentless. Another friend of a friend’s daughter and Mother; killed in a car accident. And I really would like to know why these things happen. Another box filled and I’m beginning to remove any feeling awareness from the realities.
    There are more, but my kicker in all of these is ‘what if something happens to me and I’m not here to care for all of these? What about my babies, my Nathan, my nieces, my nephew?” the list never ends. I can zap all of my own energy creating and trying to answer the unanswerable…for I am not God.
    All of this leads me back to what I was thinking of in the first place. How does this have to do with asking God to come in and be more and helping me find a way to become less? NONE of this is about me. None. I make it about me, I really do. Because I HURT. I want to FIX. I do NOT like feeling out of control. But as I know from my stroke, from my childhood, from my brother’s death, from so many hurts….good has come out of every single ugly event and God has been glorified. I don’t believe he creates these situations to savor the moment where we find him. As I have said before, I believe God weeps when we weep and for all of these things He has to have wept. So, it’s okay when I weep, when you weep; it’s more okay than it is to not weep, to wrap the feelings in a box. Not weeping and compartmentalizing has caused me deeper wounds than anything. So these days, I make a concentrated effort to feel, to live, to weep and to laugh…if in someone’s eyes that makes me weak, that’s okay too. Those are your eyes. I am going to do something really hard. I’m going to ask God to help me become less of me and more of Him. I am going to ask Him to show me how. Wouldn’t that change my daily perspective? To be able to see a little more of the picture through Christ’s eyes rather than Sarah’s eyes? Then I am most certain I will find keep finding the laughter among the tears.
    May we all become a little less of us…be blessed.

Here we go again...but wait, it's different this time...
Today is Tuesday, April 10. Been quite a long time since I have entered anything. I am not really sure why this is…I’ve had the urge to write several times but maybe I have been apprehensive of the feelings that would come out and so I have tried everything I can to not face those. But today, yesterday and the days before my fears have eaten away at my soul. Stolen my joy and my peace and I have let them do that. I am remembering now that I can do different, even when it is deeply hard and even when doing different is a struggle and a fight. I remember that my heart is being battled for by the God who loves me and I remember that he did not create me to be unwell in body or in spirit and that he came to give me life to the fullest. I remember that it is my choice to live life to the fullest, even now deep in the midst of my hurt and sorrow.
Yesterday was my 6 month cardiology check up. A friend questioned how it could be a 6 month check up when my stroke was 2 years ago. To catch up…at 9 months of age I was one of the youngest babies to ever have a complete surgical correction for the congenital heart defect I was born with. Tetralogy of Fallot. I used to only have check ups annually, but since my stroke I have them every 6 months. That means that every 6 months (and often the time in between), I am often tortured with anxiety, worries, unanswered questions and a plethora of imaginary scenarios that take me to the darkest of places.This time is different. My panic attacks and my ‘checking out’ and disengaging from my loved ones have not occurred rather they have been replaced with extreme vulnerability in conversations with God, from the pit of my belly crying and sobbing until I feel empty and still the imaginary scenarios of the horrific what if’s run and run and run through my mind. This time I have shared much of my tumultuous thinking with friends/family and medical staff at the risk of sounding like a complete nut. It’s nice to know how many of my friends have similar anxieties without the health problems. Either we are all living honestly from our heart or we are all a little bit ‘off’…either way I have found great comfort in reaching out, up and even in. A new thing for me to do.
So, as I wait for the results of my echocardiogram (trying to trust they will be great and even if they aren’t what I hope for God will carry me through), I find myself getting real, gut level honest. This honesty does not come in a pretty package. I find that in the past I would have asked God waiting for a quick response. Ask and you shall receive, right? If he didn’t answer immediately or in the way I wanted, I assumed I just needed to suck it up and play what he needed me to play. Now I am beginning to see what my dear friend told me on a walk today. While we (humans) see tunnel vision, God sees panoramic. How amazing his view must be and how human of me to want a little glimpse of that view. Can I trust him without having all the answers? I can. I can choose that. WIll I? I am in the process of unlearning old behaviors so that I can live in his peace. I do believe God wants that for me, for us all.
Will I be able to continually surrender and ask God to use me for his love and his good without putting conditions on what that will look like? Again I remind myself; I am a surrendered, whole woman basking in the warmth of God’s sunshine. He has surrounded me with so much love on this earth. I hope everyone feels so loved at least one time in their life….that love is a true glimpse of God. While I sit in my sadness just a wee bit longer I am going to search for the rainbow in the storm, I might have to reach in big to find that peace and surrender but I know it’s waiting in there for me. I believe God is not disappointed in me, I believe he has wept right along with me these days and so many others and I believe he will be grinning from ear to ear when I fall back into his arms. As my husband, my angel would say…piece of cake.

Straight out of my Jesus calling book tonight..”I am revealing to you the Path of Life day by day, and moment by moment. As I said to my disciple, Follow Me”
As I sit here in a house void of noise except the Disney channel playing for sleeping children I have to force myself to get on this computer and write. I haven’t written in nearly a month and there is a reason for that. Writing out my thoughts, my feelings forces me to acknowledge (out loud, in a matter of speaking) what is the reality in my head and heart right now. If I don’t write it out I can continue to fall back into old patterns of putting on a happy face, helping others, hiding myself within the busy and doing it so efficiently that I quickly forget what I have worked so hard to gain.
It is poker night for Nathan. He enjoys his time with the guys. Actually, I enjoy his time with the guys. I find myself more productive and enjoying the peace of these few hours until he is home…..especially when the sweet darlings in our home fall away to dreamland early in the eve; as they have tonight. I am sipping my hot peppermint tea, savoring the wafting aroma it offers. I have eaten too many york peppermint patty candies (the new ones that are crunchy on the outside like m and m’s). I have eaten too much of the good stuff today…..too much icecream…too much frozen yogurt. All this yumminess has not satisfied my empties. This excess is just another reminder that I need to get back into mindful living; bring to surface whatever it is that is festering inside my spirit so that it no longer has permission to dwell within me.
I am worried about my family. My Dad has dementia and suffice it to say, it is not improving. My Momma takes the best care of him but I know she misses her friend. I miss my Daddy. It hurts my heart that at the time in life I have finally figured out how to form some heart connections that are deep and real, he’s not able to do that anymore. I don’t want to write too much on this for the time being, it is not really my story to tell. I just hurt for them, and for me too. On the flip side, never was there a Dad who loved his daughter like a princess better. Never a Mom who was more of a believer in her child. I worry about what is to come and though I try to remember that God is in the days ahead before I am, my worry runs deep. I have to get myself in a place of surrender once more.
I have not walked consistently in over a week. Normally I walk at least 5 days a week. Yet another sign that I am choosing to travel down old familiar roads. I have felt a bit anxious and caught up in the what if’s..
Our son is struggling with ‘focus’ and I don’t know what the best options are for him. I have no compass. Our daughter just turned seven…time is out of my control.
I see the beauty that comes from ashes and I am thankful, yet the part where I am being refined under the fire is quite painful. I know like everything else, this too shall come to pass. Maybe that’s what I fear.
So, tonight, I have no absolute trust and surrender. I feel a bit weary and detached. The good things are that I am seeing this, feeling the reality of where I am headed and I do not like it. Tonight I will go to bed a bit relieved because I have shared some of the burden. I know people are loving for and praying for my heart and for my family. This is a comfort. I know my husband will come in tonight and I can count on burying my head deep in his chest and I can cry my heart out or laugh or just be silent and he will accept and love me where I am. He is my human refuge. I know that God is here and drawing me closer to him, even when I am afraid…especially when I am afraid. I know that I shall sleep and tomorrow will be a shiny new day with new promise. A day that I get to watch my son play his part as Jackie Robinson in a ‘wax museum’, a day that I will be blessed by his hugs and by my daughters smiles, by my husband’s comfort and by my Momma’s voice, and Daddy’s hugs. Those things are unchanging and stable and that feels good. And I know that, as early as this second I have the choice to surrender….again.

I have to add. I am blessed with an amazing core nucleus of friends and family who keep me going, keep me mindful and keep me living in the moment. One of my nearest and dearest sent me a text last night that said, ‘I love you. I’m proud that you are continuing to minister to people through your past experiences.’ This friend knows my hurts, my loves, my heart. She knows that I continue daily to walk into caves in hopes of coming out into the light…having a new treasure in hand is a bonus. Thank you friend for giving me courage.
I heard a seminar on line where the speaker said that we cannot selectively numb our emotions. In numbing the pain and the ick, we also numb the great stuff. (my paraphrase) She said that we numb not only through addictions but also through trying to make every uncertain thing certain. That’s impossible, even laughable. But…oh how I have tried to bring certainty to the uncertain for all my life. Here’s to learning new ways…

A world turned upside down and inside out

Alright…time to write. After three failed attempts last week I thought about giving blogging a rest. Alas, I cannot do that. My soul is bursting and I feel prompted to continue writing, now. So; I find myself at the computer in the middle of the day. Laundry piles, dishes wait, beds unmade, unmapped floors…and so on. These don’t matter, I made a promise to myself to take care of me first so that I can better care for others and this heart catharsis is part of what I know I must do to take care of me. The rest will wait. It’s going to be long…but if you walk with me I hope you find some value for your heart.
My thoughts today will take me into dark places I have already traveled, I know this and I hesitate. My heart is a little afraid; like a little girl going into a dark room where there could be a monster under the bed waiting to grab your feet. I’m a grown up, so unlike that little girl I am assured that when I turn on the light, the monsters will disappear, right? Reading comments from a dear lady who I believe to be very wise; I found this:
The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.
- Joseph Campbell
Trusting this to be truth, I know it’s time to enter the ‘cave’. Finding whatever that treasure may be will be worth the journey.
I’ve been overwhelmed with opportunities the last several months (and into the now) to walk alongside friends, acquaintances and even once strangers as they dealt with health issues in the form of stroke/heart stuff.
A little over a year ago, a precious couple I knew through the preschool had an angel baby they named Evan Charles. Gorgeous, healthy appearing little soft skinned, glowy, round cheeked baby boy-Evan was born with Tetrology of Fallot (the congenital heart defect I was born with). He had other heart issues as well. I was convinced Evan would be okay. After all, I had surgery 38 years ago and am here today; certainly 38 years later new technology would assure Evan’s survival and life. Evan also was surrounded by a multitude of loving, praying family, friends and acquaintances. I was one of them. I visited the family at the hospital hoping to give some of my positive energy and prayers to Evan. If I prayed hard enough he would be alright. Could my healing be transferred to him if I believed enough? The hard answer came when Evan was not ‘okay’ (by our limited terminology) and he went to be with Jesus. I really believe this is the ultimate form of ‘okay’, its victory in its highest form. But boy did it hurt. It hurt to watch. It hurt to see his family hurting. It hurt to see his family’s friends hurting and it almost felt (to me) that my presence in his life and after his death was only a way to rub in the years this family would not have with Evan. That hurt remains a monster under my bed.
My dear friend Jaime experienced a small stroke last year. After much research (when you have a stroke as a young person you become a model for study in the medical community) - it was confirmed that Jaime had a PFO. A paten foramen ovale. An unsealed hole in the heart that most likely let a sneaky blood clot through. I had a stroke and a PFO in 2009. We were bonded. She also suffered migraines, a common gift that accompanies a PFO. She had surgery last November to seal this hole and I was privileged to walk through this, explain the terms and procedures and just be a ‘PFO sister’. I got to love Jaime and her family through this and my dark caves were exactly what prepared me for this particular walk.
My beautiful Momma had very irregular heartbeats a couple of years ago. This is my Momma! Toying with medication didn’t do the trick and she ended up with a pacemaker. The thought of my Mom not being here, just the thought forms a lump in my throat and butterflies in my belly. It makes me wonder how she felt when I was a baby so covered in tubes that all you could see were my eyes. Thinking about that draws me into the cave.
My friend Kaye, like another Aunt or Momma to me has recently experienced Afib. It’s scary. She has been hospitalized with it and knows her condition, if not controlled - carries great stroke risk. Kaye lost her Daddy and other family members from stroke and of course this is frightening. I get to be with her through this jumbled medication, doctor communication, scary mess. These issues are her monsters under the bed and my concern for her wellbeing goes into the cave with me.
My sweet husband, the love of my life, the lover of the realest me recently found he has high cholesterol. That took us both off guard. The doctor told him in order to not be a walking cardiac arrest case, he needed to quit smoking and begin cholesterol reducing medicine immediately. The first, he has been mostly successful. The second doing great. Almost time for a recheck and I anticipate improved results. Thinking of not having my Nathan…I fear I would dwell entirely in the cave.
My new friend Mark possibly has something heartwise going on. And so the tests begin. And if he is anything like the rest of the population, questions overwhelm. I was able to confidently recommend a cardiologist to him and help him know what an upcoming test was. I catch myself simultaneously being thankful for the knowledge to help and also telling God that I don’t recall asking for these particular ‘blessings. ‘I long ago quit hiding my questions and fears from him…it’s not like he doesn’t know even if I choose not to tell him. Makes going into the cave a bit easier; I know who is with me and who has been all along.
Our pediatric dentists have begun the Oakes foundation in honor of Dr. Sarah Fox’s nephew; Oakes. I was beyond thrilled to get to write a little post on their page about my survival as a congenital heart baby in hopes of raising awareness for sweet hearted little babies and their families. This must be the meaning of beauty from ashes.
Lastly, (I think) is my sweet friend Michelle. We have known each other since early high school. Last year her Daddy died after a long struggle with heart problems. A couple of months later, Michelle had a stroke. A big, nasty stroke. She was 38 and in great health. It was a hemorraghic stroke and it tried to take her life. She is with us though, making great strides and learning to love life all over again. I thank God for this and pray lots for Michelle, as I know she is walking through the darkest of caves as I write. Unceasing why’s + Uncertain answers = soul harming doubt right now.
All of these. I am honored to walk through all of this with all of these. Somehow in the midst I forget about me and become ‘these’. I forget to become less of me and more of HIM. I forget that I matter and slowly but surely, I become exhausted, defeated, sad and anxious. I am on the upswing though. Those great tools I’ve spoken briefly of, that excellent program that changed my life, that supremely awesome God who continues to hold my hand….I feel HE is compelling me to write about the night of my stroke. This is my darkest cave right now, because in it is the fear that the something bad that could happen finally happened. In it is a traumatic event that although dark to the nth degree is now something I see more and more beauty coming out of. I have to see more and more of that beauty, how could I not? My life is a song to be played…this is my melody.
FYI; I hate telling people about the night of my stroke. In the past, I told myself they only wanted the details so that they would know what to watch for if they were to ever have one. This especially applied to people my age, for we are supposed to be infallible. As I rewrite my script, I understand they might be only curious or they may genuinely care about my pain and joys…what better way to know than to ask?
November 9, 2009
Nothing about the day stands out to me. I think I got home around 6, I know I was very tired after a long day at work. My love for my role as Preschool Director was beginning to end…the season was coming to a close. My passion had become ‘work’ and I was not performing with the joy I once had.
I remember my Mother had very kindly cooked extra for us because she knew we were tired. I have no idea what was for dinner or if my memories are real or imagined. I believe we had greenbeans that I loved with our dinner. What I do remember from this day are feelings. B.S. (before stroke) on that day, I can recall many emotions but not many events. I remember gratitude for my Mom’s thoughtfulness and gratitude for not having to cook. I remember being glad that things felt calm and though it was cool outside, it was warm inside. I remember being so happy that our babies were snuggled in. John (then 8) was resting on the couch, almost asleep. Stella (then almost 4) was asleep in our bed. I remember being happy that my Mom had saved her magazines for me so I could read them in a bubble bath. I remember thinking if all continued like this, Nathan and I could get some cuddle time in. These are my b.s. memories…then my world was turned upside down. (literally)
I was running my bubble bath. I turned the heater on. It’s an old ceiling heater that buzzes and makes a mildly burning odor when it’s on. Our bath is a kidney shaped, pink ceramic bathtub. When I was a child, I thought this bathtub was as big as an ocean…my own ocean. It is not big, not at all. But it is pink and ceramic. I sat down on the toilet (also pink, oldfashioned and very comfy to your bum). This is the part where the medical community asks if I was straining. I do not think I was straining, I think I was only peeing. I have no confirmation of this though and I have spent too much time wondering if I was straining, and what if I wasn’t? Would that have stopped or procrastinated the following event?
Still on the toilet, I hear a helicopter so loudly that I think it is going to crash in on our roof. I felt so disoriented, like I was bouncing off of nonexistent rubber walls. I got to the floor and just lay there, sprawled out naked on the old brown bath mat. I yelled for Nathan. My tone might have been alarming, for he was by my side it seemed in an instant. (It gets very uncomfortable to write at this point, so I have to take a break and ask God to give me a little strength to keep going).
Nathan asks me why I am yelling. I think he is crazy, can he not hear that helicopter? I felt like we were in immense danger but I could not lift my head up. It was becoming tied to the floor with dead weights and my world was still ricocheting. Nathan was coaxing me out of the bathroom floor but to no avail. I am not a tiny girl, and I don’t know if being tiny would’ve helped. I was a limp ragdoll. I somehow got into the hallway with my head in the bedroom door. I could not understand why Nathan could not hear the helicopter and why he was not getting us out of here. (The helicopter turned out to be my auditory perception of running bathwater and the heater. EVERYTYHING in my brain was going haywire.)
I hear Nathan talking to our dear friends on the phone. Brute and Jennifer. Brute is an opthamologist and Jennifer a pediatrician. It is wondered if I have benign positional vertigo. (That was the hospitalist theory as well, another story to be told). During the call, I began to vomit profusely. Not to gross anyone out, but I could‘ve beat Linda Blair out in her vomit scene easily. I don’t know how long they spoke, I know the concluding decision as I could not lift my head nor stop vomiting…call 911.
I remember vividly telling Nathan to call my parents. I was scared and wanted my Momma’s gentle kiss on my forehead and my Daddy’s strong hands holding my head. Part of me wanted that and the other part of me wanted to be okay and be brave and not rattle my aging parents. Nathan remembers vividly my demanding (inbetween pukes) that I not call my parents. I trust his memory is the valid one. Probably my latter desire coming through. No matter, they were there. And I got what I longed for, my Momma’s gentle kiss and my Daddy’s strong hands to hold my head.
I remember my Mom saying help was coming. I heard the worry in her voice as she kept reassuring me and saying my name. My precious Daddy sat beside me and scooped vomit out of my face with my new pasta spoon and into my new pasta pot. (These were the first things to hit the trash when I got out of the hospital.) I remember being so relieved Stella was asleep and not seeing this. I remember being sad for John Bradley who was sitting on the couch, staring at the t.v. He acts big boy brave, but I, his mommy know how sensitive his gentle heart is and pray somehow his heart doesn’t memorize this evening. I remember my dog Maple not leaving my side and Nathan having to get a leash to get her to leave me as the paramedics came. I remember he is impatient with her but soft in his tone. I hear worry in Nathan, I hear worry everywhere around me but I don’t care in the way I usually do. I don’t want control. I believe this is it. I am dying. I don’t know why or what from yet, I just know it must be my time. Serenity despite all of this is what I feel. Quiet surrender in the midst of chaos.
The paramedics arrive. A man and a lady. I think she was a little younger than I and had a ponytail…blondish brown and slender with strong arms. What an odd thing to notice, I remember thinking. The man…he had a brown beard, hot cocoa colored eyes and a gentleness about him. They both had kindness in their eyes and I knew I was safe. Angels amongst angels.
And that was the big event. Three days later it was found my diagnosis was not benign positional vertigo after all. Rather, it was a stroke of the cerebellum and left occipital lobe. According to the hospitalist, a miracle that I was there to hear my status. In a nutshell…the night of my ‘accident. (They call strokes a cerebral accident or event. This always makes me laugh).
There…for all readers to see. I feel you in this cave with me. Now…let’s go back out into the light and leave that in the cave. Trusting God enough to know HE was/is/will always be there, trusting you enough to share my story and trusting me enough to tell it…those are things that lead me to again fully surrender. The surrender brings peace although I don’t have answers, joy although there is pain and love in each moment. Those are the treasures I seek. And these treasures leave me with the belief that my truth is the truth. I really am a BRAVE, worthy, LOVED by GOD, truly happy, whimsical woman who is surrendered, whole and basking in the warmth of God’s sunshine. I pray for you to feel your truth, really feel it and soak it in. It makes it all worth it.

Time to breathe and be thankful
Today has been an exhausting but beautiful day. I went with the flow and chose to expand out of my routine and sub at the kid’s school. I struggle every time I think about accepting a full time sub assignment or for that matter, any full day commitment that messes with my ‘routine’ (I use that word with the greatest of leniency.)
I wanted to stay home, do some laundry, go for my walk, practice surrender my way(defeats the purpose)…work on my Bible study, write..just be. To myself actually, be to myself while the kids were at school and the hubby was at work.
You see…I have spent my life working, doing, performing, bettering the lives of those I love; sometimes those I needed not to do for were on my list. I directed a preschool for seven years. I started the whole shebang, grew it, watered and fed it and became a slave to it (the preschool) until it became my entire identity.
Who was I then? Many things…Mom, wife, sister, daughter, Aunt, friend,chef and errand runner for all, babysitter for any, good church girl…the list goes on and overwhelmed me so that it was easy to become enveloped in an identity that filled in a void that was already very present and darkly empty and my empty offered the opportunity to disguise myself further.
I spent lots of years trying to get to the destination, never knowing it was all about the journey. I let life lead me to a place of being a fill in for whatever anyone needed filled in. I played roles and I played them well.
Me in a nutshell…born with a congenital heart defect called tetrology of fallot. Had full repair at 9 months of age and did not just survive. THRIVED. (Miracle). Born into an amazing but struggling blended family consisting of a lovely Dad and Mom, four beloved sisters and two looked up to big brothers. Had Granny and Grandaddy on one side, Grandma and Papa on the other. Spent the majority of time with Grandma b/c everyone worked. That was the story at first…it evolves but that is for another time. Grandma was not relationally healthy and created misery for little girl me and for all those around her. She could be the best of the best too. Very confusing for a little girl…that’s the dark clouds in my first post. Relationally unhealthy gradually became a sick, possesive sort of love and so….One big brother died in a motorcycle wreck when he was 27 and I was 25. Marriage to Nathan after dating six years. Those first years were HARD. Two incredible children…John and Stella…10 and 6. Two years ago I had a stroke of the cerebellum and left occipital lobe. I survived. I THRIVED. (miracle.) God is good. Six months after that ‘accident’, I had a repair of a hole in my heart (PFO) that is assumed to have let a clot through that caused the stroke. All is well.
All of these incidences, the pains…the joys and the inbetweens brought me to a place I was dark inside. So anxiety and panic attack riddled that I wanted this miracle of life to cease so that I could just feel better. I couldn’t bear to think of not being here for my husband and children and I wondered it it would be better to just not be here. Taking my own life was not an option, so I just fully numbed out…kind of. Made myself as absent feeling as I could from the moments so that no one would hurt if I was not here and they would not hurt if they were used to me being gone already. That makes a sick kind of sense, right? I spent my days just waiting for the next bad thing to happen…my every thought was wrapped around the ‘what if I die’. How arrogant is that? Who of us will not die and who of us can control it? Suffice it to say, this daily misery was not living. It was walking around defeated, with a dying soul.
I had to live. I had to do something. I had many friends and loved ones living in true joy, peaceful, happy…they asked hard questions and were full of wisdom, prayers and quiet gifts to my heart. I wanted a glimpse of what they had, though even a glimpse was too painful to imagine because I didn’t see me having that. That truly living was probably not for me. God moved…I gave myself over, surrendered myself to a process of the heart. Finally, a way to find my little girl again and help her heal her woundedness.
By the time I began the process of self disovery I started this year I had earned myself a name that I was not proud of, but one I knew hit my heart with truth like a ton of bricks. The ugly kind of undisputable truth that I mentioned in my previous post. I got the name ‘two face’ for myself…who called me that? I’ll explain another time. For now, suffice it to say they cared enough about the condition of my heart to help me get a good look at where it was.
Two face as in my insides and outside didn’t match. Two face as in I had so numbed myself with business and caretaking (of everyone but me) that I just didn’t have time to express anything but a happy face. A happy face that created misery and sadness at home…my husband, children and Mother got to be the main recipients of these gifts. Two face because the percieved pain of much of my reality and life experiences were just too much to feel and slowly, without intentional thought, a happy face and numb heart became a great curative cocktail for the wounds.
Coming to terms with that ugly name, two face, was followed by some deep heart cleaning, soul searching and painful excavations. It was only when I began to dig out the muck that I could even fathom who I might really be. Just a brief synopsis of what made me, me. I’m still searching, still struggling, still very human. I am also figuring out who I am.
I am a Momma, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a friend, an Aunt, a niece, A God lovin’ girl, a chef, a creator, a teacher, a counselor…and the list still goes on. BUT, these are my roles. Who am I at my core has been my question. And..I am a brave, worthy, loved by God, truly happy and whimsical woman who is surrendered, whole and basking in the warmth of God’s love. Who would’ve thunk?
And that is why, friends, I struggled so with something as simple as subbing today. I need to work, I NEED to financially contribute to my family. However, I find myself especially guarded with who will get my moments and how I want to spend them. I am so glad I gave this day over to God and followed the ‘yes’ he led me to. I am worn out. I am blessed. I got to spend my day with an exceptional 9 year old boy with autism. We clicked. I understood his need for different kinds of communication input, it was quite like what I needed after my stroke. In no way did I fully comprehend all of his needs, but I understood some and that was enough. He made me smile, he challenged me, hugged me,played with me, shared smiles and was about as real as real could be. It’s funny how the heart can communicate when actual words are taken out of the equation. A common language.
So…again today I am thankful for the practice of surrender(not of my own creation). And tonight, as I type, I am thankful for this time to breathe and be thankful. Thank you for letting me unfold my story with you. It’s healing to share my heart.
p.s. I’m no longer at the preschool. That season of life was a blessing. Now to move on to the beautiful horizons of the moment…

Today...a Surrendered Gift
Today, in reading and journaling….I understand that the ugliness that is sometimes in the truth, the real, whole, heartfelt truth is BAD feeling. And, that BAD feeling can come with loss of old perceptions and certainly with a possible loss of what I have held as ideal.
I mentioned that this year I have been through some major soul searching. In this, I have realized (at 39 years of age ) that my parents, my siblings, my friends, my loved ones…especially my parents; are not the PERFECT beings I have held them to be. Realizing that truth hit me hard and I felt overwhelmingly sad. Processing that truth was one of the healthiest and best forms of medicine my soul has ever been given. In seeing their lack of perfection, I was forced to make a choice. To see they are not who I created them to be and become angry and resentful or to see that they have been the best they could be at that time. Meet them where they are…where they were.
It boiled down to this question…The truth is real and now shall I meet truth with grace? I want grace…to give and recieve it. How can I experience true grace without real truth, even it it feels bad at first? I choose the grace. That’s what God does for me…the least I can do is return the gift. Another day, another way to surrender.
To add… My parents are better than ‘perfect’. They are beautiful, real, marred by life and full of wisdom and grace. But they mess up. And that, my friends, is a blessing. Because their non-perfectness created my non-perfectness, and my non perfection created in me a a need for compassion and surrender in my heart.

My earliest memory is of myself, sitting near a bush in the yard, playing freely, making mudpies. I was maybe 4 or so, with an orange and white striped t shirt and strings of strawberry blondish wispy hairs blowing in my face. I had a dirty face but was very happy to just be there, playing in the dirt. I looked up and the sky quickly became covered with storm clouds…a dark storm rolling right over me.                             

  2. Sweetly Surrendered
    I am here with a heart overflowing…so much to say, to share, to invite. It is life changing in this life’s journey when one makes the decision to truly soak in the moments. Enjoy and find value in each and every second, no matter what comes. It has thus far taken me 39+ years to come to this conclusion, and I am still reminding myself to live it every second of every moment of every day. I have spent the last year beginning to unwrap my layers, beginning to understand who I was made to be…who I am at my core.I know that I am…a brave, worthy, loved by God, truly happy, whimsical woman who is surrendered and whole; basking in the warmth of God’s sunshine.
    Again, I know this is just the beginning. I am diving deep inside to know me better. I am stretching upward with an open heart. I am reaching outward because I need others. Just beginning…tip of the iceberg. I eagerly anticipate what’s ahead, because I firmly believe that the worst is over. I want to share my story. In seeing what has been and what is I will have the gift of rewriting my script.
    I am practicing the art of living a surrendered life. Surrendered as in by choice rather than out of weary defeat. Surrendered defined as “the moment when my forces of resistance cease to function and I cannot help but respond to the call of the spirit.” That kind of surrender takes kahunas…big ones. I welcome you to join me on this journey.
    I ask of myself…’How would it be to feel God’s breeze on my face every moment and know that time is not even of essence?” I get moments of it. Jesus was the ultimate surrender and it is only when I offer myself fully surrendered that I begin to ‘get’ this love. It always leaves me longing for more.

“I count him braver who overscomes his desires than him who conquers his enemies, for the hardest victory is over self.”