Waiting for Death

countryside-2175353_1920Waiting for death is a strange thing.  When you know someone is going to pass; Death is coming; so you just know.  But it hasn’t hit you … yet.  You stay separated; almost disjointed from the shadowed life.  Decisions are made to try and restore life.  And we wait while dialysis is started and a heart attack ensues and then death; then revival… just barely alive.

And then decisions have to be made about what to do to continue the Life; try something; anything; the question of continued life support.  And the doctors give you time.  They give you time to think and grieve, to come to terms with the Life ending.  Even when the Life chose to drink Itself to this point of no return.  Even if the Life chose to separate Itself from everyone who loves and cares for the Life.

And we who are waiting, wait.  Not sure if there was something else we could have done.  Maybe we should have gone after and insisted on contact?  Maybe we should have forced phone calls and texts and visits? Could we have saved the Life or would we have driven It further away?

And I am thankful; thankful for a God who is right here in all of this.  And I wonder if this Life who is leaving this earth, knows that Jesus-brother was standing right there with the Life as he drank.  Did this Life know that Jesus-brother loved the Life so much that He stood right there and watched?  Watched His brother-son, drink himself into oblivion?

Does the Life know that right now Jesus-brother is in the room with him?  Does the life know that Holy Spirit-comforter resides in him, never left; even when the Life tried to push It out?  Does the Life know that Daddy-God is weeping for the pain and suffering this Life’s body went through?  That Daddy-God is weeping for the Life’s decisions to turn away from the Daddy-God’s promised journey for him?  Does the Life know that Daddy-God and Jesus-brother and Holy Spirit-Comforter are right here.  Waiting for their son-brother to come home?

Waiting for death.  How long will it take?  This waiting.

Zombie Dreams

940254

 

Why am I dreaming about zombies and in color?  I am not a fan of horror and that includes brain eating zombies.  Once I woke up I could not shake this strange dream from my mind.

I find myself out walking in a wooded area.  It is a rainy fall day that makes you think winter will be coming soon.  The trees have lost most of their leaves, and the leaves that are left are brown; but there is still green grass on the muddied ground.  It is evident it has rained and will rain again.  It’s hard to tell the time of day because the clouds are thick and grey.  I am following a set of truck tracks.  And I see this person moving towards me.  It’s a zombie.

From somewhere behind me yet in my head I hear,  “You have to kill the zombie”.  I have nothing around me to do this.  No gun, no knife, nothing.  I’m not scared at all.  There’s just this feeling of needing to kill this thing.

And since this is a dream and not done in any real story telling sequence, the zombie is on the ground and I am trying to drive this stick into it’s heart.  As I’m trying to kill this thing, it turns and looks at me and I recognize it.  It’s me, or a part of me. And once I recognize it’s me, the guy who had told me to kill it was now under the zombie.  And of course he has been bitten.  And now I have to kill both.  I just need to jam this stick through the heart of the first zombie.

What the heck does this all mean?  What I know about dream interpretation is that the person having the dream has to be the one to interpret it.  But I also know that sometimes my brain picks up on cues in the world that I didn’t even know it was absorbing.  So I do what I always do when I don’t know something – I google it.

From https://www.dreamscloud.com/en/dream-dictionary/symbol/zombies I find the following list about zombies in your dreams:

“May suggest lacking purpose or a direction in life and having no goals or plans for the future.

May suggest an inability to express yourself.

May suggest feeling unemotional, alone and disconnected from others.

May represent aspects of yourself that you have rejected.

May symbolize running away from something or denying your fears.

May represent feeling dead inside or feeling out of touch with reality.

May represent someone that does not or cannot think on their own and just follows someone’s orders – an automaton.”

From http://www.dreammoods.com/dreamdictionary/z.htm, I find,

To see or dream that you are a zombie suggests that you are physically and/or emotionally detached from people and situations that are currently surrounding you. You are feeling out of touch. Alternatively, a zombie means that you are feeling dead inside. You are just going through the motions of daily living.

To dream that you are attacked by zombies indicate that you are feeling overwhelmed by forces beyond your control. You are under tremendous stress in your waking life. Alternatively, the dream represents your fears of being helpless and overpowered.”

When I first read this I was angry.  I am no longer detached or lacking purpose, in fact I find I am moving in the opposite direction.  I am full of hope and grace and purpose.  I am finally beginning to do what I love again.  I look forward to going to work and coming home and interacting with my family.  I’m not angry or frustrated or exhausted.

But then I realized what the dream was telling me.  I was killing that part of me.  That part of me that had been dead inside for so long.  The part of me that was closed off and unwilling to be open and share feelings, even to myself.  I was killing the part of me that would not let me be happy or the part that would not allow me to be sad and cry because I just didn’t have the time or energy.  The zombie was who I was, not who I am.

I had lost hope.  Not completely, but so much hope was gone that I began to believe the lies that I just could not be the healthy, happy person God intended me to be.  In the last year I gained 20 pounds and so much more fat.  See, as an adult I have always been overweight, but I could ride 100 miles on my bike or go out and run 2-3 miles with no problem.  But last year was so stressful, I was surviving, not living.  And somewhere in that year I began to lose hope.  So I ate.  And I drank Pepsi.  And I became heavier and I became so much older. And I did not move my body at all.

Hope has been trying to make its way back into my life.  I am reconnecting to God.  I am writing and praying more regularly.  I am starting to walk again in the early morning.  I am passionately pursuing God’s purpose for my life.  Those negative nasty thoughts about giving up and not trying to be a healthy person are beginning to leave.  I take strength in God’s words, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.  Now all things are of God, who has reconciled Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5: 17-18; NKJV).

I am a new person in Jesus Christ.  The zombie part of me, the part that became dead to living is gone.  I am alive in Christ Jesus.  I am aware I have the choice to live for Him.  Before, when I was surviving, all I was able to do was cry out to God to come and take me away or to get me out of this mess.  But that’s not how God works.  I had to trust God and be patient in His timing.  I had to leave behind my teaching profession.  I had to be patient for Him to open doors.  He had to be the one to lead me.  I was so broken, I was willing to follow.

My last year of teaching created an unhealthy body and mind.  My exterior mirrored what happening inside of me.  But I am a new person, a new woman now.  I have hope.  But oooh, how I wish this would mean my body would change into a new body right here and now, but it won’t.  And oooh how I wish there would be no issues with eating.  But this isn’t how God works.  He is not a fairy God mother coming to save me.  What He wants is a relationship with me.  He wants to be reconciled with me.  He wants me.  All of me.  No matter where I am in my life, He is right there.  In the middle of my eating addiction, He is right there.  When I break a promise to myself to not eat any candy, He is right there when I down a whole bag of peanut M&Ms.  (It’s not the small bag either!!)  When I attempt to walk a mile and am struggling, He is right there.  He doesn’t condemn me or shame me or put me down.  What He does is radical.  HE LOVES ME!!  All of me.

And this hope I have, this new woman I am becoming is because of this radical love.  And what’s even more important is that it’s not just for me.  It’s for everyone.  It doesn’t matter what you are doing or not doing.  It doesn’t matter if you go to church or sit at home watching sports tv.  It doesn’t matter if you believe in Christ Jesus or not!!  What does matter:

HE LOVES YOU!!

ALL OF YOU!!

AND THERE IS NOTHING YOU CAN DO

TO ESCAPE

HIS LOVE!!

At the Feet of Jesus

This was my sermon for this morning at church.  I used an earlier blog, My Anguish with Luke 7:36-50 and Psalm 46:10-11and created this message.  I hope it inspires you and you enjoy it.

When I first started attending this church I was searching.  I came and I sat on this side, over here.  It was a good seat.  I can remember watching the children’s moment and I would begin to pray to God that I would have children, lots of them.  There were days I ached to be a mother.  I wasn’t more than 20, and I really didn’t know what being a mother meant.  I would soon find out.  See, I was dating a really great guy.  I knew him from junior high school.  We were good friends.  Between high school and me going to college, he had married, went into the Army, had two great kids and came back home divorced.   We started dating.

Do you remember the story read from scripture?  This woman was in Simon’s house.  She was not a reputable woman.  She was a sinner!!  Not just any sinner either.  She was a woman about town.  And here she was in Simon’s house.  Scripture says she was standing at Jesus’ feet behind Him.  Have you ever wondered how that could be?  I was watching a video from Adam Hamilton and he explained it/showed it.  So I want to show you.  See, they were sitting on the floor in a lounging position with their feet to one side and one arm holding the upper body.  Jesus was sitting in such a position that she could be standing behind Him and at His feet.

Jesus' Welcome

At the feet of Jesus from spindleworks.com

I want you to envision this.  She was kissing His feet.  They didn’t have socks and shoes.  People were either barefoot or wore sandels.  Can you imagine what shame, what guilt this woman must have felt in order to enter the presence of these men, of Jesus, and cry over His feet.  In order for her hair to brush His feet, she had to be low to the ground.  Yet there she was.

It was customary for a host to provide water for a guest to wash their feet.  Simon had not provided that water.  This woman did, her tears.  The towel she provided was her hair.

Here was this woman coming into Simon’s house, crying over Jesus, washing His feet with her tears and wiping them dry with her hair.  She anoints His feet with oil.  Throughout this she is kissing His feet.  She doesn’t say a word.  she comes into this room full of men and says nothing.  She cries at His feet, kissing them and pouring oil on them.  Whatever burden she was carrying, whether it was guilt, depression, loss, whatever it was put her on her knees.  She had to be desperate because at any time she could be kicked out.  She said nothing because what she was carrying inside her was so heavy.

But what is even more profound, is Jesus did not speak to her.  He did not acknowledge her.  He knew where she was but, He knew her pain to be so great, her feelings of shame and guilt to be so great that she could not speak.

Have you ever been so ashamed, in so much pain, so filled with guilt that you wanted to be alone and be comforted at the same time?  Has life bent you down low?  That’s how life is sometimes.  Sometimes all we want to do is hide ourselves and cry at the feet of Jesus kissing His feet because it’s our last stop our last hope.

I have.  I have been this woman.

I stood there in the dark silence of the chapel with the stain glass face of Christ looking in at the pews.  His hole pierced hands showing an anguish I felt.  No one was here, not in this space or time, yet sounds of a movie floated above me from the back wall.  I did not approach God straight on, I walked down the side aisle, as far away from His face, my head down with my hair falling around my face – hiding my shame.

“Why?  Why me God?  What did I do that is so different then everyone else?  What did I do that was so wrong?”  It was not a whisper but a cry that came welling up from my soul.  “How can you do this to me?  This is not supposed to happen to me!  I am a good girl.  I do not want this baby.  I cannot be pregnant.  Why me?  I didn’t do anything different than anyone else.  Take this cup from me!”

There was no answer.  The stillness crept into my porous soul, which I was trying to cement shut.  I raged at God.  I shook my fist into the air, crying out to the God who would not speak.  The stained glass Jesus said nothing, but His hole pierced hands spoke to my anguish.  The only sounds were those of my soul feeling betrayed.  My shame oozed into the very recesses of my heart and the guilt overcame me.  I found myself prostrate in front of the alter with stain glass Jesus standing over me.  His expression never changed.  His anguish bleed into my mind, reminding me of His humanness.

“Pass this cup from me Lord, if it is Your will.  I cannot do this alone.  I am so sorry for my sin,”  rippled repeatedly off of my tongue.  Time was warped.  I was there for minutes, hours, a life time.  I pulled myself off the rough carpeted floor.  I was wishing, hoping, someone would walk in and offer that act of humanness that God could not give.  No one came.

Slowly as I stood there, I felt I was not alone.  I turned around and looked into the darkness carefully, yet I couldn’t find anyone.  The very air changed.  A calmness washed over me.  I was surrounded by angels.  I could not see them but the sense of them was so palpable I could breathe it into my soul.  “Hush.  Shhh daughter.  Be still and know God is here.”

I could not hear Christ because I could not release my guilt, but I could feel His messengers.  I was single and pregnant and in college.  I felt alone because I was afraid that my parents would stop loving me.  I was afraid they would disown me.  If my parents didn’t want me, how could God want me? I was unworthy of His love.  God’s angels placed me in the protective sphere of His guardians.  I was not alone.  He had not abandoned me.  I became still.  God was there even though I didn’t feel Him.

I want to stop here and pause and go back to scripture.  During the whole conversation Jesus has with Simon, the woman is weeping, anointing Christ’s feet and kissing them.  And Christ does not say anything to her, does not acknowledge her presence.  Yet He is there.  But this is not the only time Christ was in the company of an ill-reputed woman and did not say anything to her directly.

In John 8:2-12, a woman is brought before Him by the scribes and Pharisees, caught in the act adultery.  They are ready to stone her.  For Adultry.  He writes in the sand and says, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.”  He bent down again and wrote in the sand.  The men left.  And it was just Christ and this sinful person.

See, I am these women.  I find myself in their stories.  I am the woman in deep shame and guilt, crying at the feet of Jesus.  I am the woman waiting to be stoned for my sin.

Yet what is Christ’s words to these women.  Go in peace, sin no more.  Your faith has saved you.

In that darkened chapel that night, I knew Christ was present.  He calmed my spirit.  While we don’t know the rest of the story for these women in the Bible, we know where I am.  I am right here in this place and time.

God has given me peace.  It is the same peace He offers you.  What I learned in that darkened chapel that night is that Jesus is with me.  Some believe He died on the cross in place of us, or to carry our sins away.  But I believe it is more than this.  In that darkened chapel I learned that Jesus was with me.  He died so he could be with us.  He is with us when we are committing our sins.  He is with us when shame and guilt consume us.  He is with us when we confess and seed repentance.  He is with us when we celebrate our arrival out of darkness.  He is with us when we are singing and dancing and praising His name.  He is with us in our joy.

Right now the Holy Spirit may be calling to you to committ your life to Him, or maybe you’re being called to renew your committment.  For some of you, this is a time to be with Jesus, and for others this is a time to dance and celebrate.  Regardless of where you are in your walk, Be still and know God is with you.

Amen.

 

Centered

I wait
Centered in the cacophonous rush   
Listening intently
For quiet sounds to emerge
Rising above to ensnare me
Releasing me into multicolored prisms


Joy intertwines itself with life
I swirl in multidimensional shafts of light
Delivering me from the inharmonies of life
Here I want to reside

Worldy stings pull at me
Bringing me back to earth

I am left between the joy of living and the overwhelming tsunamis of life

But I am not alone.

Never have been.

Never will be.

Inside the Black Box

A giant wave / Credits: Shutterstock

Life coming at me.

Overwhelming life hitting me like a tsunami wave.

cacophonous words trip upon each other in my mind.  I am lost in my own body

So I slide into this dark box of mine, hidden deep inside.

Just to rest.  Just for a quiet moment of silence.

                                                     
It’s quiet in here.  Deep down in the dark.  It’s not so bad.  I can release myself to this quiet and be still.  Nothing enters or leaves.  It’s been a long time since I entered this place.  This deep, dark, quiet place.

But it is never truly quiet.  My thoughts, like dust floating in sun beams, drift down making light, fluffy, muffled, jangling noises.  And the ruminations settle around me.

These musings of mine ease their way next to me.  Some of these thoughts want to pull me into a darker place.  A place where leaving the box becomes difficult.  A place where I bury me beyond existence.

 I push the clamour aside and wait for the other reflections to settle on top of the debris.  And they shift to the top.  Reminding me that staying in the box is not as safe as facing the crashing tsunami waves of my life.

My box shimmers and white light drifts all around me like falling snow.  Each light flake touches my skin, bringing delight.  Memories of joy in existing pull me up to the top.

I decide it is time to leave my quiet dark box.  As I come forward, the waves of life crash down upon me, and I am driven down.

But I am not alone.

I never was.

Poems and Sayings

Fall

burnt orange, bright yellow, vanishing green, dirt brown
     roll one after another
           chasing each other
 the  s t a c a t o  sound
      turning my mind around
          chasing after those colors
that fade into the black and white
     of crisp cold air

 

His Call                                                       Familiarity
He called me
And I didn’t hear.                                    A sense of being

He called me
And I heard.                                              Inherent

He calls me
And I listen.                                              To the point

He calls me
And I write.                                               Home

 

 

Just some sayings
 
There is no spiritual conflict – when conflict arises it is people conflict – people drama.
 
Relish in the grace and gifts children have; they were once our own.
 
Children clean and edify the church.  Through them comes our growth.
 
Communication is more than what comes from my mouth.  More importantly it comes from my heart.

Keep on Truckin’

There he is; the little old man, his reflective vest, and his silver walker.  He’s usually on the sidewalk when I am getting ready to turn to go into my school.  He’s moving at a good clip for someone who is using a walker.  I notice his legs are strong and muscular.  Every morning on my drive to work, I look for this little old man.  When I see him I find myself thinking, “Way to go.  You keep truckin’.”  And inevitably I think, “I want to be him when I am that old.”  I want to be moving at whatever pace my body will allow me to move.

I realize that as I age, my body changes.  I have aches and pains I didn’t have when I was younger.  I find I am tired more often.  I want to be in bed early and up early, and I want my 8 hours of sleep.  I have recently found that when I injure myself, I don’t know how I sustained the injury.  I wake up, and I have pulled a muscle in my arm.  How does this happen?  I want to know what I did in order to feel the pain I feel.  It’s just not right.  It’s not fair.  Why did God make my body this way?  I did not appreciate the strength and health I had when I was younger, and now that I am older, I want that young body back.  I know what I want to do with that young body.

This is the whole thing with life.  You get older … you change.  What you do with the change is up to you.  I have a choice about how I am going to live out the second half of my life.  I can give into the pain, the , the change and bemoan the fact that I am getting older.  Or I can embrace it and use my life experience to become all I am meant to become.  I want to “keep truckin'” like my little old man.  He has inspired me.  I don’t know him.  But he has influenced me to keep moving my body when all I want to do is hit the alarm clock and snooze an hour more.  Because I am sure that when I am his age, I will be thankful that my body is still moving, that my mind is functioning.

What I find even more fascinating is that he is affecting my life and we have never met.  How often do I do that for others?  Am I influencing others I don’t even know?  What is it I am doing right now with my life that leaves a positive impact on other people?  Every day I make contact with people I don’t know.  That’s a hefty thought.  What I do says more about who I am as a person than anything I can say.  I want people to see me as a loving, caring person.  I want people to see me as someone who will stand up and fight for what is right.  I want people to see my actions as a child of God.  Is that what I show?

Often I think I fall far short of those expectations.  I make mistakes.  I stay silent when I should speak about a wrong.  I talk gossip when I should keep my mouth shut.  It’s not that I am all bad, but what I do can impact someone else.  I want to be a positive impact.  I want to create a positive ripple in people’s lives.

I want to be the old man in the bright orange reflector, walking in the early morning with my silver walker.  I want to influence people in ways I don’t even know I am influencing them.  I just want to”‘Keep on Truckin'”

Behavior Change

I am taking a class… well … actually two classes.  Trying to finish my master’s degree.  So, anyway, I have to change a behavior as a project in my Behavior Intervention class.  Or in my case, restart a behavior.  I have chosen writing.  I need to write.  I long to have oodles of time to write.  I feel like I am doing everything but writing.  Since I don’t have lots of time but I need to write, I came up with a simple plan.  I am going to write 3 times a week for a half an hour each time.  Saturday morning I go and work out, come home and pray, study my Bible and write, Sunday morning I go and work out, pray, study my Bible, go to church and write throughout the morning.  Then on Wednesday evenings, after my class, I go into the library and work for another ½ hour on a blog post.

This is where I am now, in the WIU library, writing this post, making my first week deadline.  The problem, I forgot my notebook with my writing in it from Saturday and Sunday.  Not a very exciting post, I admit, but there is a purpose, a method to the madness.  I have to find ways to carve out time in my hectic life to pursue what I believe, and others have affirmed, God is calling me to do with my life.

It is so easy for me to say, “I have no time.  I am tired.  I don’t feel like it.  This is too hard.  Why should I write?  Is it going to get me anything?”  But if I continue to fall into that trap, I lose my personal legend (a term I borrow from Paulo Coelho and his book The Alchemist).  Within Coelho’s book he weaves the concepts of omens and personal legends and the soul of the world in a tale that reminds me that I too have a personal legend.  I get to choose to follow it or stay stagnant.  But the catch is, I know my personal legend.  If I don’t follow it, I will forever feel the weight and burden of not even trying.

Beyond this story, I know God is yearning for me to follow the path He has set for me.  I get to choose to move on that path or stray from it or not even walk it altogether.  It is totally up to me.  It isn’t about how busy I am, how tired I am, what I want to do or not.  It is about weaving my life in a way that comes in harmony with God and the world He has created.

So, here I am, writing.  For the next 12 weeks and beyond, whoever reads this has the ability to help me stay accountable in changing my behavior.  You have the ability to help me reach my personal legend.  Respond back to me.  Call me.  Leave a message on my blog.  Text me.  Email me.  Let me know you are reading this.  Let me know if my words are making a difference for you.

Anguish

      Image     I stood there in the dark silence of the chapel with the stain glass face of Christ looking in at the pews.  His hole pierced hands showing an anguish I felt.  No one was here, not in this space or time, yet I sounds of a movie floated above me from the back wall.  I did not approach God straight on, I walked down the side aisle, as far away from His face, my head down with my hair falling around my face – hiding my shame.

            “Why?  Why me God?  What did I do that is so different then everyone else?  What did I do that was so wrong?”  It was not a whisper but a cry that came welling up from my soul.  “How can you do this to me?  This is not suppose to happen to me!  I do not want this baby.  Take this cup from me!”

            There was no answer.  The stillness crept into my porous soul, which I was trying to cement shut.  I raged at God.  I shook my fist into the air, crying out to the God who would not speak.  The stained glass Jesus said nothing, but His hole pierced hands spoke to my anguish.  The only sounds were those of my soul feeling betrayed.  My shame oozed into the very recesses of my heart and the guilt overcame me.  I found myself prostrate in front of the alter with stain glass Jesus standing over me.  His expression never changed.  His anguish bleed into my mind, reminding me of His humanness. 

            “Pass this cup from me Lord, if it is Your will.  I cannot do this alone.  I am so sorry for my sin,”  rippled repeatedly off of my tongue.  Time was warped.  I was there for minutes, hours, a life time.  I pulled myself off the rough carpeted floor.  I was wishing, hoping, someone would walk in and offer that act of humanness that God could not give.  No one came.

            Slowly as I stood there, I felt I was not alone.  I turned around and looked into the darkness carefully, yet I couldn’t find anyone.  The very air changed.  A calmness washed over me.  I was surrounded by angels.  I could not see them but the sense of them was so palpable I could breathe it into my soul.  “Hush.  Shhh daughter.”

                                                        Image

           I could not hear God because I could not release my guilt.  I was unworthy of His love.  God’s angels placed me in the protective sphere of His guardians.  I was not alone.  He had not abandoned me.

Doing It Again

So I am walking and talking to God this morning, and I realize it has been a long time since I have had a deep meaningful, give and take conversation with Him.  I apologize.  I ask for forgiveness.  He simply asks me, “Are you doing what I have asked you to do?”  There is no condemnation in the question.  There is no expectation that I will feel guilty.  There is no ‘attitude’.  It’s just a question for me to ponder.  But I say to Him, “No.”

It is then I realize that while I have given my last hold out, my health, over to Him, I have slipped.  Food has been and will always be an issue for me.  I see it, I want it, I have to have it … NOW.  It doesn’t matter if I am hungry or not.  And lately, I have fallen into the mind-trap of, “I just rode 22 miles this morning, I can have ______________ to eat.”  (Fill in the blank with any food you love, but shouldn’t have every day.)

Some of my favorite foods.

Because I am not taking time to be with my best friend, God, I am not focusing on what is really important in my life.  I am derailing myself.  So this morning, after my walk, before showering, or getting on the scale or eating breakfast, I am writing.  This is what God is calling me to do with my life.  I am no longer afraid of the ‘what ifs’.  That’s not the problem.  It is balancing being a graduate student,  being a mother, being a wife, a new career move, my health, and my faith.  Notice my faith is last.  That is where I have placed it, and yet it should be the first.  My time spent with God should be at the beginning.  Once I place God where He should be, everything else will fall into place.

I should know this by now.  I’m a mature Christian.  I’ve done this act before.  I am so glad that my Lord knows me and loves me so completely.  I am glad that I can sin, receive true forgiveness.  I am glad that while I don’t always learn from my mistakes, I can continue to move forward in my life, and God will always be there to guide me.

He’s waiting for you too.  Take some time today to listen for His word in your life.