Learning to Just Be

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I finally got around to watching that Graham Cooke video I wrote about last time (it’s here if you want to watch it).  It was good to be reminded of a few things, like the fact that He is always present.  I may not feel His presence, but He is not a liar.  He is with me and never leaves me.  As Graham says, it’s not as if He’s running away, so why do we say we’re pursuing Him?  That’s what they had to do under the old covenant, but He has made all things new!  He actually is the one who pursues us, and I would like to be caught as quickly as possible, lol.

Yesterday I took Kevin to the doctor because he had been fighting something all week.  Turns out it’s shingles and it’s in his scalp (yesterday it started on his ear).  He’s on an antiviral and pain medicine.  The worst part is not the pain, though, it’s having to stay away from the grandchildren!  It’s the same virus as chickenpox and the boys are safe but the littlest is not.  I don’t know if his having it makes me more susceptible but we are sure praying!  I did lay hands on him Friday night when I got home and when I commanded it to leave he said he felt it “hiccup.”  We wrestle not against flesh and blood….

This week is filling up, but my focus has shifted and I’m more at peace…which is somehow tied to rest, so that’s happy.  When you give yourself permission to “just be” you may feel lighter somehow (just sayin’ :).  I started scrapbooking my year in pictures.  That project alone could take a few weeks!  And Wednesday is the start of the video course with Darren Wilson!  Time to chase some dreams.  To that end I’ve signed off Facebook for a time so I can stay better focused (hopefully–that’s always been a challenge!).  Of course there hasn’t been much about this summer that has been normal, so hopefully we’ll be done jumping hurdles soon!

In a Strange Place

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I’m headed back home tomorrow from NC.  It’ll be nice to get there (Lord willing, I actually do!).  I haven’t slept well here, just waking up a lot through the night for no apparent reason.  I’d like to tell you it’s because I’m having great dreams or crazy encounters, but it’s not.  I usually wake up and look at the clock and go, “One o’clock again?!”  I think the longest stretch of sleep I’ve had is four hours.  ~sigh~  My doctor doesn’t believe me when I tell her my thyroid numbers shouldn’t be at the low end of normal.  I mean it’s great not having to worry about what I eat, but I’d take gaining a few pounds to be able to sleep at night, lol.

I helped Mary with her book the last couple of days.  Today alone I typed over ten thousand words and read a lot of her stories, some of which I was familiar with and others which were new to me.  I believe this book is going to help many go on their own journey into healing.  It’s incredible what she has been through and what she’s learned and now has authority over.  Anyway, she literally has piles of composition notebooks filled with things she’s written down over the years.  Just hearing/reading some of her stories and encounters made me realize how mundane my life is.

This morning I got an email from Graham Cooke’s ministry and the title was something like, “Stop Pursuing God.”  No, I didn’t click on the video (which I believe was mostly about how God pursues us), but the thought has been going through my mind all day.  As strange as it may sound, I think that’s what I am supposed to do.  I mean, I keep getting the “rest” word.  This constant striving, though it sounds good to call it “going after God”, hasn’t exactly gotten me where I want to be, and in some ways I feel no further ahead than I did five years ago.  Or maybe it’s just because I’m comparing myself again.

Comparing my life to Mary’s is a recipe for depression, lol.  And yet I confess that I do it, mostly in the I-want-that-too way.  But you can’t impart relationship, and I don’t suppose a big encounter like the one I keep crying out for would do it either.  The relationship she has with Holy Spirit began when she was seven.  Mine took off five years ago, so she’s got about 45 years on me.  But who’s comparing? lol

Yep, I think it’s time to go home.  If I wake up through the night tonight perhaps I’ll get a head start.  I’m missing Kevin a lot.  And my garden probably needs some love…not to mention the grandchildren.  Here’s hoping I get at least four hours of shuteye.  Nite!

I get to hang

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Since dad has moved back home now, I get to hang up my hat labeled “caregiver.”  In some ways it feels as if it never happened, those two-and-a-half months of roller-coaster craziness after my dad had his stroke.  My brothers feel the same way, like, did that just happen?!  Anyway, it’s not a hat I’d care to wear again anytime soon, but I have “broken it in”, so if I ever have to put it on in the future it won’t be so stiff.  That said, I hope it gathers a lot of dust :)

This past weekend I got to hang out with a rock star.  No really, I did!  Brian from Korn (of the backwards “r”) stayed at Mary’s (yes I’m back in NC again) as he was doing a conference with some other speakers at her church.  Underneath all the tattoos and dreadlocks is an unpretentious, humble guy who loves Jesus.  His testimony is pretty incredible (there are many of those on YouTube).  He takes a lot of heat from Christians for going back to the band, but those guys are like family and God told him to.  Yesterday after the morning service a big group of us went to Olive Garden.  It was fun watching people’s expressions when they saw him.  At one point I was walking past a young man and heard him say to someone, “Is he a Christian?!”  I turned and said, “Yes, he is!” and smiled.  He looked amazed, lol.  Of course everyone wanted selfies (today’s version of the autograph) and most of the employees came out with a menu to get signed.  He was very gracious.  He’s in the middle of a tour, which can be very draining, so if you think of it say a prayer for him.  I’m sure he’d appreciate it :)

I’m still working on hanging on the cross, picking it up, or whatever you want to call it (basically dying to self).  This morning I awoke at 5:30 and was questioning whether I should do a fast again.  When I got up Mary told me she had a dream with me in it and I was all excited…until she told me the dream, lol.  Long story short, I got the “rest” word again.  I didn’t realize it at the time, but He was answering my question about fasting and the answer was no.  Why He chose to give her the dream and not me is a mystery, but as I had forgotten I even asked the question it felt like a rebuke and I took it waaaaay too hard and got down on myself.  When am I going to rest in the fact that He loves me, He loves me, He loves me?!  Anyway He finally brought it back to my memory that I had asked about fasting (or should I say striving, lol) and that this was the answer.  He is sure patient with me :)

Speaking of He loves me, that reminds me of a daisy, and the other day I had a crazy dream.  I was at a gathering with a group of women getting ready to do crafts.  Abby Abildness was leading it (she has a healing ministry).  We were going to make stained glass and I was excited!  There was a beautiful beveled glass and crystal one laid out.  We gathered around a table (standing, not sitting) and I was surprised to see we were doing the little plastic sun catchers (the ones you paint).  I remember being a bit disappointed but thinking oh well, it’s a start.  The one I had had a man with a tux on it.  I remember thinking I’d paint the lapel a different color.

Anyway I was at one end of the table.  The woman across from me said under her breath, “I hate you,” and I was like, “Hey everybody, that lady just said she hates me,” and kept working.  Then she said, “I’m going to kill you.”  Again I repeated it to the group.  Then she came at me and I touched her and put her down on the ground somehow (it wasn’t a struggle) and got back to work.  I was one of the last ones done because my sun catcher was intricate.  I remember wishing I would have chosen one a little simpler, lol.

I woke up to the first line of “Turn, Turn, Turn,” playing (“To everything, turn turn turn, there is a season, turn turn turn, and a time to every purpose under heaven”).  Then I drifted back to sleep and “saw” (more like a vision than a dream) translucent daisies (like the “flower power”) ones being laid in a line and knew they were put there for me.  They went across the top of a clear butter dish like the one dad just got and I heard myself wonder if Jesus or angels put them there.  At that point I saw the “fingertips” place another and I was overjoyed.

I get to hang onto those dreams and wait in wonder for more revelation.  God reveals all things in His time, in His season.  Until then I will turn, turn, turn on my bed every night and ask for more dreams and visions!  I want more, Lord!

Answered Prayer

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It should come as no surprise (though it often does) when our prayers get answered.  Still, I found myself surprised last week when I got a call from my stepmom saying she wanted to get back together with my dad.  That’s how we had been praying, for God to make a way, to move in her heart.  In fact, I listened to a recording of a word I got at Shawn Bolz’s church in June which touched on this exact situation.  God is faithful, and yesterday my older brother came and picked up my dad to take him back home.  We are praying for reconciliation, a tighter bond than ever between them, and a plan for them to move forward and build a better life.  He’s not totally healed yet but is headed in the right direction.  They are contemplating selling their place down there and moving up here.  I hope they can make that happen.

I have enjoyed getting to know my father.  He shared stories the past two weeks that I’d never heard, and God in His goodness blessed me with opportunities to share my life with him.  I don’t remember his coming to anything while I was in school, but he came to Perry Village eight days ago when I preached.  He told Kevin afterward, “I didn’t know she could preach.”  And when I led worship, “I didn’t know she could sing.”  I remember I’d invited him to see me in the lead role of “Bells Are Ringing” in high school but he didn’t come to that or to my graduation.  I remember my disappointment at the time, though I brushed it off and told myself I didn’t really expect him to come anyway.  It was special having him at the service as well as at the hymn sing a few nights later.  Some of the residents who had been praying for him got to meet him.  Oh!  And he told me one day, while I was driving him here and there, that I was a good driver!  I think there’s a part of us that always wants that affirmation of any kind from our fathers.  I waited a long time for it, and it was especially sweet hearing that.

So assuming things work out for them, I can shift gears and begin to look at life returning to “normal” again.  Summer is more than half over, but that’s okay.  It’s funny how we lay our lives out as if we have ultimate control over them.  My plans are written in pencil now and as always begin with, “If the Lord wills….”  I’m going to start by planning as little as possible, lol.  It’s amazing how much I am enjoying today, that I have “nothing to do” but wash and gardening and mowing and making dinner, all the while talking to and worshiping the Father of Lights, from whom all good gifts come!  I think I shall just enjoy being His daughter today and loving on Him.  I can feel His smile on that one :)

Keeping my head above the water

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It’s been twenty days since I posted.  During that time we had a vacation in California, which was a wonderful break from all the demands on me right now.  His aunt treated us to tickets to see Chicago at the Hollywood Bowl and we really enjoyed the show.  Most of the time was spent breaking tacos with our SoCal cousins, strengthening family ties and enjoying the nice weather.  It would be nice to do this every year!

We flew the redeye home on a Friday night, getting in at six on Saturday morning.  It took a couple hours to drive home and then we managed to sneak in a nap, after which we mowed the jungle that was our yard.  In the evening, my brothers brought my father up to stay with me and we moved him into a little nook in the basement.  Over the next week I spent most of my time driving him here and there and everywhere, taking care of business (opening up an account at the local bank, working on getting prescriptions transferred, looking at and then signing a lease for an apartment two blocks from our house, to name a few things).  I cooked and cleaned and generally tried to love on my dad as best as I could.  It was heartbreaking to wake up in the morning and look out my bedroom window to see him sitting with his head down at the picnic table.  One day he told me, “I cried this morning just thinking about her divorcing me.  I’ll never understand it.”

Kevin and I went away for two days this past weekend.  Dad had moved into his apartment two days before and was sleeping on an inflatable mattress we lent him.  We’d also provided a table and chairs, a night stand and other items, along with food.  But with us gone he had little to do and too much time to think about the past and other things, and when we came home and dropped off his truck (which we had driven back from Lancaster County) he wasn’t in a good place.  Somehow it was my brothers’ and my fault that he was up here and not with his wife.  Such is the nature of brain injuries–confusion and a mixed-up memory can mess with relationships.

I told myself I was going to start to step back this week but so far the majority of my time has still been consumed with things related to his care.  I’m fortunate that my husband and family are understanding, and I have a whole new appreciation for caregivers.  It’s not easy.  There’s a conference starting at Global tonight and I am going.  I thought it started tomorrow night and said yes to running cameras, so in essence I’m losing a whole day.  I hope dad will be okay.  I dropped something off to him today and he showed me a poem he had found that his wife had written to him about ten years ago.  When I was done reading it I told him it was nice and said, “Hang on to that.”  He had tears in his eyes, so I asked, “You miss her, don’t you?”  He had to turn away.

I know God’s heart is for restoration and reconciliation.  I don’t know how He’d do it, but I believe He can.  In the meantime I am trying to help him rebuild his life.  A friend came over this week and talked to him about his health and forgiveness.  That’s going to be key to his moving forward.  I’m trying to do whatever I can but am learning that just because I can do something doesn’t mean I should.  I need wisdom and discernment…and a lot of patience.  I remind myself how patient God has been with me and it helps me show it to dad.  I’d be lying, though, if I said I wasn’t tired.  It’s been two months since the stroke and there are still months of recovery ahead.  One day at a time, sweet Jesus!

OH!  And how could I forget?!  I’m a grandma again, and though I love my grandboys, I am thrilled to finally have a granddaughter!  She’s a sweetheart, and I can tell she already loves music!  Maybe I can teach her to play the guitar :)

California Bound

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A quick post before we head to the airport.  The outing with dad over the weekend went well.  A bit rocky at first, but once we got him away from the nursing home he relaxed, and that makes him more himself.  We went to see my brother’s place that he is fixing up, hoping maybe dad could stay with him when he gets out (but it’s not far enough along for that).  Then we went out for dinner and got him back before the four hours he was allotted was over.  On Monday my brothers took him out to breakfast.  Then on Tuesday I went down by myself, picking him up and driving him to my brother’s house.  On the way we stopped at a dingy motel to check out a room they would rent weekly for $250 a week.  Not much to look at, but do-able. There’s an apartment that opened up in the town where I live, and if he could be convinced to come up here it would probably be better, but he had said he wants to stay down there.

He’s due to get out today.  My brothers are going in for a meeting and then taking him to the motel.  At least that’s the plan.  His wife said he can’t go home.  She told him yesterday and he was quite distraught.  You know it’s bad when the nursing home advises you to take him home sooner rather than later “so she won’t have access to him.”  He has yet to be served the divorce papers.  I’m not sure what they’re waiting for but that will be painful for him when it happens.  I won’t be there to help pick up the pieces.

The timing of this vacation is something.  In fact, the timing of so many things regarding this situation have served to reinforce some of the lessons that God is teaching me, i.e., that there is a purpose for everything that happens and we need to be paying attention to what He is doing.  Interruptions, inconveniences, surprises, those things that “mess with our schedule/plans” are often for a very good purpose and if we don’t pay attention to them it’ll take longer to learn what we need to!  What happens over the next week is out of my hands, and that’s a good thing.  If you believe in prayer, please join me in praying for my dad and this situation.  My father needs fathered, needs to know how much his Heavenly Father loves him, and I’m praying that through all of this somehow God will break through the protections dad has put around his heart.  He did it with me; He can do it with him!

Peace, be still

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What a week.  On Monday after I typed my last post I hopped in the car and drove down to see my father at the nursing home.  Perhaps it was due to the timing, the fact that his wife was just leaving, that he was so upset.  She seemed nervous and in a hurry to get going.  I’m not sure what was said between them, but our visit just kept going downhill.  Somewhere in his still-healing brain synapses were misfiring, because it became clear that he believed his wife and I were the two people between him and freedom, that we wanted to keep him in there.  There was no convincing him that that wasn’t true, and he said some harsh things.  I left in tears, my brother having to pick up the pieces.  In the car I cried and wailed and made sounds I have never heard myself make, but I can’t say I totally let go.  No, I avoid that like the plague, because when I cry hard I throw up (my body’s way of trying to get rid of grief, perhaps?), and I didn’t like to do that, so I kept stuffing it, though it was harder than ever to do.

When I was around 15, dad told me he loved me, the first time he’d ever said what I had always longed to hear.  I remember wondering if he had cancer or something.  Then he turned around and walked away.  I found out later he was leaving mom for another woman.  I never cried.  I think I went into a type of shock emotionally and just kept going on with my life.  He wasn’t very active in it anyway.  I don’t think I ever remember him coming to see me play in musical or sporting events at school.  When I had the lead role in Bells Are Ringing I invited him to the show; he didn’t come.  I invited him to my graduation; he didn’t come.  If I saw him over the ensuing ten or so years, it was because I made the effort, and I did occasionally.  When I got engaged, I asked him to walk me down the aisle on my wedding day.  I wasn’t sure if he would show up, but he came, and something got healed in me that day.  Over the years I have worked hard at rebuilding our relationship.  Driving away it felt as if the shoe was now on the other foot, that I was now the one walking out of his life.

I know that I shouldn’t have taken what he said personally, that my getting upset only fueled the situation.  I’m in a better place now, though I have to keep reminding myself that this is not something I can fix, and not only can’t I, but I shouldn’t even try to.  On Wednesday my brother and I went back to get a Power of Attorney signed (because we were told his wife had filed for divorce) and I saw him again.  Things were better.  Jeff said he “glitched” (a term we used for the misfiring that occurs in his brain) and he pointed it out to him. It was the first time my brother had ever seen my dad cry.  I won’t go there for visits anymore unless I am with someone, and I have a strong guard around my heart (his name is Jesus :).  Perhaps I’m not to go at all, but I want to support my brothers and I still love my dad very much.

I wouldn’t trade what I am learning for anything, and I am staying as close to Jesus as I can because I don’t want to have to go around this mountain again!  I know I will be tested (as is everyone in the family).  In fact, today my husband and I are planning to take him on his first outing.  He wears a Wonderguard (which locks the doors if he gets close), and has to understand he must come back or we won’t take him out at all.  In all likelihood this could be the last time I see him for a couple weeks as we will be going on vacation soon.  The timing couldn’t be better for that.

We all love the story where Jesus speaks to the storm and it stops, but there were two storms that day–the one raging outside, whipping up the waves, and the one in their hearts, the emotional tempest caused by fear.  Jesus calmed the first and I am sure it had the effect of calming their hearts as well.  A couple of chapters later there is another storm but Jesus isn’t with them this time, and they don’t speak to the storm (no doubt thinking, “If only Jesus were here, he could stop this!”).  Then they see him walking on the waves and are even more fearful wondering if it’s a ghost.  After that Peter makes his bold move (you gotta love the guy).  We know what happens when he takes his eyes off Jesus, and that I think is part of the “training” that is going on here in my own life.  God doesn’t waste an opportunity to teach us!  The storm has not stopped, but Jesus is in it, and as long as I keep my eyes on Him and not the circumstances trying to whip up my emotions and put my heart in turmoil I will stay above the waves.  I trust Him, and that trust is growing.  As a plant needs not just the sun but the wind and water to cause growth, we have the weather the storms that come our way.  I don’t know how this will end and I don’t need to, I just need to keep my eyes on Him.  Help me, Jesus!