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.”

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