Friday, September 23, 2011

Wading through the dross...

I have made no secret of the fact that I find the new Facebook home page/news feed confusing.  I do believe that such a change makes it harder for those who are cognitively challenged and those who find learning new technology difficult. The more I have been of need of accessible measures, the more I have them lacking. The more I am in need of adaptive options, the more I see that few in my quotidian existence give them a single thought.  Honestly, I doubt they even give thought to my needing them.

I really do feel as if I might explode each time someone tells me I will figure something out or I will be able to do something if only I want to do so, if only I try.

For one, I am hearing that I am not trying, when, in fact, I have been trying harder for over a year now than I ever have in my life.  For another, the simple reality is that I am one who rides elevators because she cannot figure out which button to push.  Yes, I can still call to mind some of what I know and, at times, I can still think strategically. I still have things to offer with the gifts that God gave me.  But I am one who oft cannot figure out which button to push.  Believe me, when I tell you, I try very hard when I am in that elevator.

Just as I concentrated with my whole being to remember Bettina's wedding or practically any of the wonderful times we have spent together.  To know them as more than mere stories.  I could not. I need to ask her to tell me more stories, at least. For I hate the hole that is in my mind when it comes to my best friend.

However, aside from true difficulty in navigating the changes and dealing with the distraction of the ticker is the actual content of the ticker.  People have said that you are only seeing that which you would have seen if you went to every one of your friends pages and then followed all of their posts, but you see more.  But I purposely do not do that. I purposely have been trying to narrow down my Facebook world.

A friend said to think about it like my home.  I need only invite those whom I want in my home.  As conflicted as I have felt about it, I systematically unfriended all those whom I felt pressured to accept or who felt pressured to friend or who simply do not interact with me.  I see no point in filling their world with my life. And doing so made me feel vulnerable.  I worked to make my Facebook home safe.  Now, it is as if Facebook has broken down my door and left me defenseless.

On the ticker, I saw a comment from someone who claims to be a Christian, even a Lutheran, but who regularly blasphemes the Word of God.  I find it offense and uncomfortable--the latter because I know beneath many of his words is a rage that has not been addressed. I do not want him in my life.  Caught by his comment, I read the thread.  Doing so made me wretch.

Is is wrong that I think differently about those who stand against Christ without professing to believe than those who stand against Christ as they claim His name?  Growing up in a non-Christian family, living in a largely non-Christian world (meaning my small patch of life), I have this immunity of sorts.  I know sin is there.  When openly practiced because without the Holy Spirit, the person is incapable of fearing, loving, or trusting God, that sin does not bother me more than the wretchedness of our fallen world as a whole.  But when the arrows of our foe are being flung out of the mouth of one who claims to be one of Christ's own, I cannot stomach it.  Less so now than ever before.  And, I would argue--in complete seriousness--that that growing intolerance has nothing to do with my current weakness of spirit. Though...I could be wrong about that.

Am I merely upset to read such stuff or to hear it because it reminds me too sharply of my own struggle?  I mean, I do not openly stand against God. I struggle to believe the for me at times, to remember my baptism.  I do not give praise to God's wife.  I do not claim that Yahweh is merely an evolution of a Canaanite god.  I do not claim that there are many types of hell in the bible. I do not claim the bible is merely a representation, a guide, for us to use as we search our heart of hearts, but one full of errancy and discrepancy. Such LIES do not fall out of my lips, rest in my mouth, fill my mind, rattle around my heart.

Others do though.

Is there no difference between us?  Am I denying the Word of God as is he?

I really, really wish I had not read the message thread.  It is very hard to set aside what I read.  Only wading through the dross I did come across a most precious treasure.  I wanted IMMEDIATELY to call an undershepherd and beg to have it confirmed and explained.  Even having not done so, I want to go ahead and post it here, for an ex-undershepherd is the one who wrote it.  And, to me, it resonated with that which I have learned.

The New Testament lies hidden in the Old, the Old Testament lies open in the New. We, as Lutherans, hold to the principle of SOLA SCRIPTURA. That means we base our doctrine, our teaching(s), and our confession(s) on the Bible, the whole Bible, and nothing but the Bible. Internally in the Bible, we see revelation unfolding from Genesis to Revelation. But that doesn't mean God changes. This unfolding of the revelation is like a rose (which Luther used in his coat of arms). We see more of the rose as the rose opens its petals. So also the revelation of God as we read through the Bible.  ~ Daniel Thomas Moriarity

SIGH.  Is not the first sentence simply beautiful?  This is what I have been experiencing, most especially with the Psalter.  I have found the Gospel, the whole of the Gospel, buried in there. I have discovered Jesus and baptism and the Lord's Supper, most especially. I have found the weight of the Law and the freedom of the Gospel.  I have found forgiveness, dying and rising with Christ.  But I have also found Christ elsewhere, in places I never would have expected, all through out the Old Testament, even in a favorite passage of mine in Zephaniah, that I thought was just pretty words for Israel, not for me.  

Shout for Joy, O daughter of Zion!
Shout in triumph O Israel!
Rejoice and exult with all your heart,
O daughter of Jerusalem!
The Lord has taken away His judgments against you,
He has cleared away your enemies.
The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst;
You will fear disaster no more.
In that day it will be said to Jerusalem:
"Do not be afraid, O Zion;
Do not let your hands fall limp.
The Lord your God is in your midst,
A victorious warrior.
He will exult over you with joy,
He will be quiet in His love,
He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.
~Zephaniah 3:14-17

Think about Jesus.  Wow!  Sounds familiar, eh?  The Holy Spirit has brought about such a fundamental shift in opening my eyes to the pure doctrine, filling my ears and sowing the seeds of true faith...even if I find them to far smaller than I would wish.

The New Testament lies hidden in the Old, the Old Testament lies open in the New. 

The Living Word is whole and complete and without error.  There was no editing of God to fit life then that needs to be adjusted to life now.  There was no crafting of clever allegories not meant to be taken as real.  There was no re-creating a Canaanite god to fit Israel's desire for just one god out of the many choices available. Our Triune God is the only God that ever was or is or will be. God created the world, rather than allow it to evolve. His Son was conceived by the Holy Spirit, was born, lived, healed, forgave, taught, suffered, died, and rose again--all without sin, taking on our sin to be our justification, an act whole and complete in and of itself. The Holy Spirit came to bring faith, through Word and Sacrament, that those born in sin might believe and be saved from eternal death for Christ's sake, for His faith.  This I believe.

Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Those writing moments that are few and far between...

Back in the dark ages, when I was an educator, the best moments were the light bulb ones.  For they truly do happen.  Between one moment and the next, understanding dawns and light rushes into the place that was once clothed in darkness.  For the student, those moments are not always happy ones as we might like to think.  

On a dear friend's Facebook note about homeschooling, I recounted the story of a young boy whose light bulb moment--when it came to reading--was filled with raw anger.  For a micro second, I would actually have called it rage.  

A rather intelligent boy had been shut out of the world of his family and peers because he could not, as a second grader, read.  His reading lessons had been the immersion type, void of direct instruction. After receiving permission of his parents, whose professional field was literacy, I began tutoring. I did so because while babysitting, it broke my heart to see the naked longing in his eyes as he watched his three-year-old brother read and to hear the bitter resignation in his own voice whenever he blithely admitted he was not a reader. Even his classmates acknowledged the same, labeled him the same, as did everyone else.

I would like to claim great professional skill in the tutelage, but I cannot.  All I really did was connect the dots for him.  In that moment though, he screamed at me, Why didn't anyone teach me this? As a reader, after that, he went from 0 to 60 in ten seconds flat.  It was a truly joyous moment when he announced to his peers, to the world, rather proudly that he was now a reader.  

For a writer, the best moments are when you write something that is either what you intended to say or quite darn close.  Today, that happened for me.  

One a friend's post, someone wished he were better about being joyful in suffering. My friend, a pastor, replied who ever said suffering was joyful.  The man responded with: "Looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith, Who, for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross"... (Hebrews 12:2).

[Now THAT is a passage (Hebrews 12:1-6) that I would LOVE taught by a Lutheran pastor for is sure reads like Law to the good witness...or else.]

But his response made me think of how I have changed the way I look at, think about, the word peace and the phrase: the peace of Christ or Christ's peace.  So, I added my two cents:

I do not equate joy, always, with emotion. I mean, I have always heard of peace as a feeling, but it is also a cessation of hostilities. The peace of Christ is a cessation of hostility with God. That knowledge can still you, quiet you, even in the midst of great sorrow or deep anguish...moving through and with and beneath the emotions, but based upon a state of being.

For me, the joy of the cross is the delight, the keen pleasure not of the suffering, but of what He would gain for us through and with and beneath the pain and anguish and humiliation and a loneliness none of us can truly understand.

When I was a missionary in Africa (back in my evangelical days), there was a couple whose van overturned and killed all five (I believe) of their children. Their grief was constant, their sorrow great through the years. Yet they had joy in the hope of their resurrection and being reunited with their day. They were old. They had lived a long life with both sorrow and joy.

The joy that God brings, therefore, to me, is more like His peace, a state of being born of who we are in Christ, what He has won for us, rather than a feeling of...excitement.

For me, the result of my pen was almost all that I hoped it would be.

It was strange, though, because part of my lying in bed last night was taken up with how poorly I have done, in my opinion, at trying to explain what it is like when my body temperature drops.  I was thinking this, of course, because I was miserable with cold, waiting for the moment (hours) to pass.

Something that I noted last night is that the surface temperature of my skin becomes very cold to the touch. You know how its fun to take your ice cold hand and touch it to the back of someone's neck or face after playing in the snow?  It is like that. Only, all my skin is ice cold.  My legs and arms and hands and face.  I have a hard time lying there because I do not want any part of me touching the rest of me, only the best way to work on warming up that I have found is to wrap my body in a thin cotton blanket beneath the arctic weight comforter I have on the bed....double cocooning of a sort.

That is the other trick, by the way, to have not a single inch of me outside my face, exposed to any air.  Even the smallest, tiniest sliver of room air sends chills up and down my body and deep within me.  I wriggle and wriggle to ensure that every bit of me is covered by the cotton blanket and the comforter is tucked around my body from chin to toes. And then wriggle more, within that inner cocoon, to try and move my arms and legs away from my body so that none of my skin is touching any part of me. The wriggling usually untucks the blanket or the comforter, a "breeze" sneaks in, and I start wriggling more to get the covers properly arranged once more.

All of that is, of course, after I dress in four or five layers.

Even with the above, however, I have yet to find the adjectives, the figurative language that would convey what it is like to be so cold. Before this started happening, I never would have thought this could be a problem for someone...not unless that person was too thin. [I am so totally not too thin.] The feeling, the misery, the experience really does not have words yet...good ones, that is.  Words to paint a picture for when I say, I got cold today, and anyone would understand.  It is not for sympathy, mind you, this longing to find the right words.  It is to be less alone in the struggle in a way. 

[Sometimes my pen really disappoints me.  SIGH.]

I used to think that hypothermia was not all that bad of a way to die.  I mean, you basically just fall asleep.  Only, I forgot about the abject misery of cold, how it can consume your entire being, and discomfort to the point of pain of the violent tremors that take over your body.  I am not, I know, dying of hypothermia at these times.  But I have wondered what would happen if I didn't work so hard to warm myself up when my body temperature begins to drop.

I am Yours, Lord.  Save me!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Christ's kingdom exists only with the Word and Sacraments...

"Christ's kingdom exists only with the Word and Sacraments." [BOC, AP, X, 52]

Can it be any simpler than that?

Christ's kingdom exists only with the Word and Sacraments.   If so, though, if this is a statement from our Confessions, I really do wonder how it is that so many churches see the Lord's Supper, a Sacrament, as optional in services. I mean, it doesn't say "Word *or* Sacraments."

Our Confessions speak clearly as to the why of Word and Sacraments:

When we are baptized, when we eat the Lord's body, when we are absolved, our heart must be firmly assured that God truly forgives us for Christ's sake.  At the same time, by the Word and by the rite, God moves hearts to believe and conceive faith, just as Paul says, "Faith comes by hearing" (Rom. 10:17).  But just as the Word enters the ear in order to strike our heart, so the rite itself strikes the eye, in order to move the heart.  The effect of the Word and the rite are the same.  It has been well said by Agustine that a Sacrament is a visible Word, because the rite is received by the eyes and is, as it were, a picture of the Word, illustrating the same thing as the Word.  The result of both is the same.  [BOC, AP, XII (VII), 4-6]


...the Sacraments are not just marks of profession among people, as some imagine.  Rather, they are signs and testimonies of God's will toward us. Through them God moves hearts to believe. [BOC, AP, XIII (VII), 1]


For this reason, Christ causes the promise of the Gospel not only to be offered in general, but He also seals it through the Sacraments. He attaches them like seals of the promise, and by them He confirms the Gospel to every believer in particular. [BOC, FSD, XI, 37]

In the AC, XXIV, we read, Because the Mass is for the purpose of giving the Sacrament, we have Communion every holy day, and if any desires the Sacrament, we also offer it on other days, when it is given to all who ask for it. [(34) emphasis mine] Perhaps Sundays are not considered holy days??

Of course, LC, I, 92 says: Whenever God's Word is taught, preached, heard, read, or mediated upon, then the person, day, and work are sanctified. This is not because of the outward work, but because of the Word, which makes saints of us all. Isn't that pretty clear that a service with the Word would be holy? Therefore, wouldn't that mean it would be a time to offer the Lord's Supper?

If you consider what our Confessions state in the Large Catechism, the absence of the Lord's Supper on Sunday seems even stranger: 

With God's grace, you may feel your misery more and become hungrier for the Sacrament, especially since the devil doubles his force against you. He lies in wait for you without resting so that he can seize and destroy you, soul and body. You are not safe from him for one hour. How soon he can have you brought suddenly into misery and distress when you least expect it! [V, 84]

For Christ Himself says, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick." ...He means those who are weary and heavy-laden with their sins, with the fear of death, temptations of the flesh, and of the devil. If, therefore, you are heavy laden and feel your weakness, then go joyfully to this Sacrament [Lord's Supper] and receive refreshment, comfort, and strength. [71-73]

I truly wonder how a confessional Lutheran church could ever eschew the Lord's Supper, relegate its celebration to when it is convenient or something that is needed once or twice a if the Lord's Supper is not a means of God coming to us, forgiving us, strengthening us against our foe, and sustaining us. I understand the need for Lutherans to survive without it because of location, because there is no faithful, confessing congregation nearby. But to willingly forego the Sacrament, to say to God we are not in need of His gift, His forgiveness, His protection, His sustenance at the moment and will take Him up on the offer at a later time is simply beyond my comprehension.

Christ's kingdom exists only with the Word and Sacraments.

Lord, I believe.  Help my unbelief!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Missing the moment...

Someone is reading my novel manuscript...the last completed one.  Well, at least I think he is still reading it.  Technically, three people have started it in recent months, but I no longer hear about it from the other two, so I am thinking just one is still reading it.  That, in and of itself, should tell me something.

I really like my Christian Historical Fiction novel.  Perhaps it does not measure up to that which I wanted it to be, but I still think that it is a story worth telling and had truly hoped it was a story worth reading.  Even though I wrote the thing, parts still make me laugh and others weep and still others think rather deeply.

As with my beloved Book of Concord, there are many bits in my story that are my favorite. If you ask me about the story, I will start telling you them...once I am certain that I cannot talk you into reading it.  If you are reading it, once I know you have passed one of them, I will ask you about it.

One of my absolute favorites is a scene between Megan and her mother-in-law Margaret.  It does not really spoil the story to say that it is the first visit following Megan's husband's death.  So, Margaret is understandably overwhelmed by the freshening of her grief as she sees her son's grave for the first time, enfolds his widow in her arms, walks into his empty home.  Perhaps it is understandable then, that she misses the moment.

It is one of my working theories that people around the deeply wounded often miss the moments that would truly help the anguished soul.  Perhaps they are not looking or they are distracted or it could be that they simply do not care, but the moment is, sadly, missed.

These are moments when the wounded person, for the briefest spate of time, is willing to consider the possibility, to believe even, that things could change for him, that life could be better, that wound would not always be so great, so raw, so devastating.  This window of opportunity arises in which the spoken word can have profound effect, when hope truly can be shared, bestowed, or even borrowed long enough for the wounded to finally grasp hope herself. A question flung at the other person in the hope of hearing a different answer than the one he holds.  A bitter statement murmured in the hope of hearing a refutation made with absolute certitude. A shameful admission rent from the secrets of a heart in the hope of hearing absolution.

They are moments not hard to miss if you are looking, listening.  But if you are thinking more about your own life, your own experience, even in hearing the wounded person's story--thinking how it affects you or would have affected you--then you will miss them.

When they are together, Margaret is caught unaware by some news and starts rushing ahead as she is racing to catch up at the same time.  Even so, had she been focused on Megan, instead on herself, on her own ideas, she might have caught the moment, might have spoken a single word that would have given Megan the courage to believe that there was hope for her future. "Yes."

The funny thing is, it is a part of the story that I believe most will miss. For the wounded reading it, they will understand and, I believe, hope that some might spot it and learn, might learn to look more clearly, to listen more closely to those around them, to the wounded souls that God places in their path to speak a word of hope to them.

I am Yours, Lord.  Save me!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Just so you know that I do not believe Bettina is perfect...

Because she does not find herself to be so extraordinary, so magnificent, I thought I would document a few slightly less than perfect things about Bettina:

  • She can eat an entire bag of chocolate in one sitting and not gain weight.
  • Her hair has curls.
  • She can remember where you put something even if she wasn't there to watch you do it.
  • She wins too many games.
  • She has perfect shoulders.
  • If you announce that there cannot possibly be any words with the letter T in them three times, she will promptly spout out at least six words with three Ts.
  • Her love for me does not include my snoring when she is ill and it is keeping her from sleeping.
  • If you spent five hours looking for something and mention to her that you did, she will promptly find whatever it is that you have lost.
  • She wears capri pants.
  • She likes the number 3 (all odd numbers really).
  • She drinks milk with spaghetti.
  • She does not like deviled eggs.
  • She drinks my Dr Pepper.

Bettina is Yours, Lord.  Save her!

The keeper of the story of us...

A woman I know has found her beloved. Though things will not be official for a while, come next summer she will be married.  Before she met her intended, she had longed for a husband who would pray with her.  Answering the desire of her heart, our Good Shepherd is cleaving her to one of His own undershepherds.  Surely His goodness is overflowing, for as a pastor her beloved rejoices in this woman's hunger for the sweet, sweet Gospel, her clinging fiercely to the Gospel and eschewing all else, and the ineffable satiation she finds in the fellowship of praising, giving thanks, and petitioning our Good Shepherd with another child of God!

Cleaving.  A contronym in that it means both to separate and to join together.  Funny that.  In Christ, we are buried and risen, we are dead and alive. 

Anyway, hearing her talk about her wedding made me start thinking about my best friend.  Since that conversation, I have been trying--for several days now--to remember even a single moment of Bettina's wedding.  Just one color or smell or song.  An exchange or a morsel of food.  The can I, Myrtle, forget wedding cake?  Not one moment.  Not a single second of my best friend's wedding do I remember.  Just eleven years ago.

So, yesterday, I asked Bettina if I was at her wedding.  She promptly answered.  No asking why I wanted to know.  No twitting me about how I should remember my own best friend's wedding.  No trying to get me to remember myself.  Just an answer.  [Oh, how I love that woman!]

Not only was I there, but I was in the wedding.  I was her bridesmaid...apparently in a dress I didn't like. [What a horrible friend am I that I let her know I was not a fan of her choice! Something about my thinking that I looked like a pink sausage in it???  And, no, I do not know where the dress is...what happened to it.] But what was so amazing in her answer was that she told me that they had the bridal party sit since I could not stand long enough for the ceremony.  How sweet was that?  How loving!

Since he is plowing through my blog, perhaps Fred could count up all the Bettina-is-so-very-wonderful entries there are in the past eleven years.  However many there are, there are not enough of them.

In any case, my dearest friend understood my anguish in the question and her answer.  She also said it would be okay, that she promised to share her memories of us.  That's Bettina for you, always offering love and acceptance. Too, the marvel of her really, is that she always sees the best in me, not the worse.

If you were to ask me what I see in Luther's exploration of the 8th Commandment in the Large Catechism, I would say that I see how Becky has lived our friendship.  She not only seeks to be truthful and to not spread any untruths, but she oft covers my own foibles and flaws with her own honor.  When she looks at me, she see not the sinner--which I most certainly am--but the redeemed saint. She sees me not as a struggling sheep, full of doubt and despair at times, but a beloved child of God and her sister in Christ.  That she looks at me, sees me this way, is a marvel and surely one of the greatest blessings in my life.

I have wondered though, just how hard it is on her to be my friend...especially of late.  I wonder if it bothers her that I do not remember our friendship.  Christ has helped me, in the past while, to understand that we are friends, even if I cannot remember most of the past sixteen years.  He gave her the words, based on His Word, that would help me to understand this:  Covenant friends.

In many ways, I see that as a choice, a binding choice the way a woman and a man are bound together in marriage...through thick and thin.  Though, to be sure, sixteen years ago, Bettina probably didn't think she would have to face this much thin in our friendship.

As I have written before, her telling me that she viewed us as covenant friends brought a peace even my lack of memories could not break.  Because that meant our friendship was something God was building. What He has done before, He can certainly do again.  Of course, she is sort of both David and Jonathan in our friendship.  So, uhm, where does that leave me?  Mostly, I think about us being Frog and Toad.  She is clearly Frog and I Toad.  Frog and Toad...good stuff there.  Bettina and Myrtle...good stuff there.

If one were to write a book about friendship, the shape of it that God can craft even in a fallen world, even between sinners, ours would be a great least her half would be. She is an altogether extraordinary woman.  And, as I have said for a long while now, if everyone in the world could have a Bettina in his life, this world would be a much, much better place.

So, having struggled to capture the magnificent blessing that is Bettina once more, how could it be that I cannot remember her wedding?  Smells and sounds have been intense triggers for me of late, wont to bring on the nemesis born of PTSD, those blasted anxiety attacks.  Shouldn't some smells or sounds bring on a flood of memories of Bettina?  Ought not there to be some balance in all of this?  I wish with my whole being to remember that day, to be able to look back and share her joy.  Or the memory of any day, really, with Bettina.

But the heart of her is that she will tell me the story of her wedding if I ask. She will tell me the story of her first cherub's birth.  She will tell me the story of our camping trip.  She will be the keeper of the story of us.

Truly, she is the greatest blessing that God has bestowed upon me outside the salvation won for me by His son and the gift of faith brought to me through the Holy Spirit.  For...surely...God knew the measure of my days and caused my path to join with Bettina's so that when I stumble, when I am lying on the ground, there is someone who, if unable to help me get up, will sit beside me in the dust and love me even when I am bloody and beaten and unable to see the light at the end of the tunnel that is the day I will be taken into the arms of the Savior we share.  And, too, I think...well...that God knew the measure of my doubts and despair and caused my path to join with Bettina's so that I might understand His love for me, even the me I am now, because if she, with all her weaknesses and sin, can love me so fully, so completely, with such acceptance and a willingness to look past my own weaknesses and sin, then my Good Shepherd, who is perfect, loves me even more!

Because I am the beloved daughter of a God who causes our cups to runneth over, He has given me a new friend whose magnificence is in her ability to share the sweet, sweet Gospel with a gentleness and a sensitivity that is truly extraordinary.  I am humbled, often, by her emails, by her listening to my confusion and anguish and then speaking in such a way that I can hear, that I can grasp--even if fleeting--the sweet, sweet Gospel.  [And, if there is anything I have to say about it, she will eventually have a book that tells others how to share the sweet, sweet Gospel with wounded souls using gentle and sensitive words.]

I do wonder, though, if she will be able to carry both halves of the friendship, as does Bettina.  I have wondered if she will be willing be the keeper of the story of us for me...and remain patient, when I ask her the dozenth time, how her visit me was just last month...or was it two months ago??

I suppose the larger truth is that I worry--beyond the wedding, beyond the friendships--about what I can no longer remember, the good things that I can no longer remember.  May it never be so, but I worry about the day that I no longer remember the One who has given me those friendships, those good gifts.  For those who lose their memories, what they often retain is the distant past.  For me, that would be a devastating loss.  For me, to go back to living in my past would be a nightmare.

Where will I be without knowing who I am in Christ?  If I no longer know Him, will He know me?  If I can no longer call Him Lord, will Jesus still be the keeper of the story of us?

In all the hell, fire, and brimstone of the bible, it is not God's wrath and destruction that terrifies me so.  It is two small places:  it is the Holy Spirit leaving Saul without him realizing he had strayed so far from God that he lost his faith and it is Jesus saying to the men who called Him Lord and did service in His name, "I knew you not."

Lord, I believe.  Help my unbelief!

Monday, September 12, 2011

I cannot win for losing...

I know that I am being very churlish and very petulant right now. Part of me is ashamed.  Part of me cares not, for I want to SCREAM out loud that IT isn't fair.

In the mail today, I received money from my grandfather's estate.  Of course I know I should put it all toward my medical bills from the pit bull attack.  But I wish that I could enjoy this inheritance, not merely have it cover expenses from a violent attack, the cause of which is another's fault and the expenses from which should be another's responsibility.  But, alas, the world of Myrtle simply does not work that way.

I called my beloved Bettina to open the mail with me.  So often, it has been bad news.  At this point, I do want to be alone when I open it.  Today, however, I had an unexpected distribution from the estate.  I was so surprised.  And, well, I really wanted to get something I wanted with it.  Anything but pay bills.

Bettina, bless her heart, suggested that I purchase the new pocket version of my beloved Book of Concord.  I have been HUNGERING to own it, but at $44.99 (plus tax and shipping), have found it to be rather out-of-reach.  My heart leapt at the idea!  Such good a good thinker she is!  I was so excited to own this copy that I could more easily carry about with me that I turned around to go back downstairs to log onto the computer.

In my haste, I was not as careful as I should be going through any doorway and smashed my left foot into the door frame.  Poor Bettina had to endure much hollering and cussing as I tried to swallow the pain.  I am about 98% sure I broke two of the toes on my left foot.  Plus, something seems to be moving about in my foot itself when I try to walk on it.

However, I DO NOT want to spend any more money on my body!  I DO NOT want another medical bill.  I DO NOT.  I DO NOT.  I DO NOT!

[Picture Myrtle flailing about on the floor while she is shouting this.]

I did hobble to the car, drive to the bank, deposit the check, and then high-tail it over to Taco Bell to drown my sorrows and pain in food.  Yes, I did that even though I awoke at 4:00 this morning rather violently ill.  That spot on the back of my head had been pressed against by the weight of a bun I forgot was in my hair when I fell asleep.  Mostly, I forgot because I had an asthma attack last night and struggled to fall asleep in the first place.  Such misery.  I took down my hair, showered, emailed a friend who is also a pastor, and crawled back into bed weeping and afraid and ashamed of my fear when I know what was happening.

I figured that if I am going to be miserable with foot pain after being miserable from that stupid nerve I would like, very much, to have cut out, then I would at least be miserable with Taco Bell.

This afternoon, as a way of avoiding the whole idea that I probably should be at the ER, I used the inheritance money to pay the orthopedic surgeon, doctor, and hospital.  I now have the ambulance bill and the MRI bill outstanding.  Since the MRI bill was denied as was my first appeal, I girded my loins and had a weeping-free conversation with the insurance company to see what was the next step.  Then, I called the hospital and spoke with the billing department to ask that it file the appeal, based on the preauthorization that the facility was to secure, but was missing.  This put the bill in holding, while an investigation is launched and the appeal is filed.  Mostly, all that is guaranteed is that no interested will be charged until an answer is forthcoming from the insurance company regarding the appeal. Something at least....

I then called Toyota and set up an appointment for the two recall repairs that are outstanding on my Highlander.  I have avoided doing this because sitting in plain chairs hurts.  Period.  After a few minutes, I begin to ache and the pain builds and builds until I get up.  This is why, at my appointments, I primarily just lie on the floor.  However, I do not believe lying on the floor at the Toyota service center will go over well with both staff and other customers.  However, I would rather be sitting in a Toyota waiting room (for free service) rather than an emergency room waiting room (for not-free service).  Silly, I know.  Wednesday, from 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM I shall be tending to my vehicle.  [Do I get brownie points for that since the two notices date back to February?]

Finally, I girded my loins yet again to call Dell back, since I have not heard from the supervisor since Thursday, to ask about the replacement computer that was sent but does not work...crashes with software installation. The escalation team member said he would look into a third replacement computer and call me back before six this evening (it is now 6:07).  At least I tried.

After all that responsibleness, I very much wanted to purchase the BOC, but I keep thinking of all those bills.  So, I chose a smaller purchase.

You see, I have made two new friends, a pastor and his beloved wife who live out in North Carolina.  Kind folk are they.  I have not asked them for nicknames, so I thought perhaps I would just assign them Fred and Ethel.  You in a couple of good neighbors!

Fred is the one who is reading my blog from beginning to end.  [Perish the thought.]  He is also as ardent lover of the Small Catechism as I am of the Large Catechism.  It is too long, really, to work through my thoughts and feelings (and fears) surrounding the Small Catechism.  Suffice it to say that I generally avoid this cliff notes version of our faith in favor of the Large Catechism.

As I wrote to Fred by way of explanation:  I love that there is no room for me in the Large Catechism. Even the brutality of Part One is a wonder. Luther spins out each commandment in such a way that there is no room for satan to twist a jot or tittle of it into helping you think that you could possibly keep them. In their impossibility, they drive you to the cross. Do not steal means do not steal, do not allow others to steal, protect the possessions of others and help them to increase their possessions. Do not lie means do not lie, do not allow others to lie, protect the reputation of others, even laying your honor upon their foibles. Enormity that can only be covered by perfection...and perfection is only gained through the cross. What a bloody conundrum! I LOVE that the next four parts sing of the sweetness of the Gospel, spinning it out to cover the entire existence of the human race, not just the whole world but all the worlds that have been and will be. I love that woven throughout his instruction is a litany of anguish, doubt, despair, and attacks of our foe. In the Large Catechism is my weak and weary faith, my doubts and despair, my bruised and broken body.

But I have not been able to set aside his own passion for the Small Catechism.  To give this piece of our Confessions better due, I decided to make a purchase I spotted on another friend's blog.  In one entry, she was reviewing her resources for this next year of homeschooling and mentioned those having to do with catechesis.  Something that caught my eye was Sing the Faith, which is the Small Catechism set to music for children.  At $7.99, I would barely notice this purchase from the inheritance funds (along with the $7.62 I spent at Taco Bell--yes, this includes burritos for tomorrow's lunch, as well as food for today's lunch and dinner).  I will admit, that I would MUCH prefer this not be children singing.  However, it is, at the very moment, playing.  I thought, perhaps, if I play it enough, I might think a tad bit differently about the Small Catechism.  [Did you get that, Fred?  Any brownie points from you??]

So, here I am, having spent 99% of the inheritance money on medical bills, staunchly ignoring the pain in my foot.  And I am weeping for once again I will not be receiving the Lord's Supper.  It has been an entire month, between difficult days and the holiday.  Now, another week will pass.  Hobbling to and from the car to go to the bank and Taco Bell was too much.  There is no way I would make it all the way to the sanctuary.  In less than half an hour, my brothers and sister will be given the sweet, sweet Word of Absolution, have the Living Word surround them, the sweet, sweet Gospel poured over them, and the forgiveness and healing of the very body and blood of Jesus Christ placed in their mouths. I rejoice for them, but I am bitterly disappointed for me.

Why, oh, why did I have to smash my foot today? Why not tonight...after church...or even tomorrow???

I am Yours, Lord.  Save me!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Firewood update...

So, Firewood Man is really Firewood Young Man.  He called yesterday and rescheduled.  I was disappointed, but I also worked to remain hopeful.  Today, he and his good buddy came and delivered the firewood.  They are fairly young, perhaps even teens, although I am not sure.  They both work for landscapers and spent some time admiring my labors of late.

My neighbor has been very concerned about one of the evergreens because it leans toward her new garage.  I, however, LOVE my evergreens and believe taking out one of them will lose the shade in that back corner where I have the Victorian bench--the place where I often visit to escape from my own weaknesses and weariness, breathe in the amazing fragrance of those trees, and contemplate the gifts of my Creator until my troubled spirit finds solace and peace.

Well, the young men talked with me about topping the tree.  For the bargain basement price of $75, they will take the top 14 feet of tree, which should not hurt the tree, but should give peace to my neighbor, because what will be left would most likely fall between garages or in my yard.  At risk is only my fence.  Not, mind you, that anyone really thinks it will ever fall, but it is leaning.  Her husband died in Afghanistan and my neighbor really does not want to have their last project together damaged.  I can certainly understand that.

Additionally, these strapping young men are going to remove the shrine that is in the yard.  It has bothered me greatly, even though I removed Mary and found her a good home.  The shrine is actually a small cast iron bathtub that is buried 1/3 into the ground.  Even if I could dig it out, I couldn't move it an inch.  They agreed to dig it up if they could sell it and take the proceeds.  To me, that is a wonderful bargain.

Finally, given that I burnt off the grass trying my hand at fertilizing, Firewood Young Man said that he would fertilize for me for $25.  He also said that next spring, he would run an aerator and seed a bit if I need it to fully recover from my folly. And he said that if I end up with another garage full of pruning, he will come and haul it away when he drops off more wood.

In short, I now have a new source of wood, with young men who were polite and helpful and made me feel safe in the way the other person did not.  Life interrupted his first delivery, so I got a phone call--in advance--about not being able to make it and a prompt second delivery time.  He said that he could supply wood all winter and lives just about 15 minutes away.  Once he's no longer mowing, Firewood Young Man said that he could usually deliver the same day I call, but never more than a day or two after.  Music to my ears, eh?

I made a good choice, I think.  I cease doing business with the first man and seek out another provider who would treat me with respect and be more reliable in service.  In the process, I found an economical means of dealing with some lingering yard issues and put my very kind neighbor at ease.

Oh, how my Good Shepherd has cared for His struggling sheep this Lord's day! You see, I prayed several times over the listings, fearful of both trying and of making the right choice if I dared.  I settle on one, and it is the one Christ uses to bring me a small spate of peace and rest and help me find two whose vocations will be yet another way He heaps mercy upon me and reminds me that I am His.

Lord, I believe.  Help my unbelief!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

What I deserve...

I am writing this before I learn if the choice I made was a good one. I am writing this before because the making of a choice, I think, was good in and of itself.  I want to remind myself of that before I know now it turns out.

Over the course of two weeks now, the man from whom I purchased firewood all last winter stood me up.  Three times, I called him and he choose a time to come drop off another load of wood for me.  Three times, he did not show up.  Three times, he did not call.  Three times, I had to call him to see why he did not show up and ask for another appointment for delivery.

A part of me finds his behavior rude and unprofessional...utterly disrespectful and rather inconsiderate.  A part of me find his behavior merely what one like me deserves.  Who am I?  Why should I matter to him?  Why should my time be important?  Why should my need be a consideration?  Why should he even worry about making his appointment with me?  Clearly, he did not.  Customers are a dime a dozen.  You can choose the ones you wish to serve.  Clearly, he did not choose me.

I set up another time for him to come.  And then...

...and then I called him back yesterday. I told him that I was choosing to find another source of firewood because I needed someone upon whom I could depend on for service.  He was angry with me.  He tried to tell me that he had done his very best and that I needed to understand he had other things on his plate.  I told him that if I am to be someone's customer, I expect at least the courtesy of a call to cancel an appointment and some sort of effort to arrange another appointment.  I also told him that I expected it not to take two weeks to have a load of wood delivered.  He was speechless.  Well, there was some sputtering.

He then said something that has been bothering me...It doesn't matter; it's just wood.  To me, it isn't just wood.  To me, it is peace and rest, a sure way to soothe my spirit. He doesn't have to understand that.  He doesn't even have to know.  I am still a customer.  Shouldn't I be treated as if I matter to his business at least?

Am I expecting too much?  Have I been expecting too little?

So, in a few short hours, new Firewood Man will be coming.  I am hoping he shows up. I am hoping his offering is actually seasoned wood. I am hoping it is the same quantity as before.  I am hoping he is a safe person to have in my presence.  And I am hoping he will be a regular source of wood for me.

Shut up. | Be still. | Wait until it is over.  I don't want to do that anymore. I don't want to be that anymore.  To me, chasing after a firewood man who regularly misses delivery times and doesn't bother to call, who leaves me to track him down, to keep calling when he doesn't bother to return my calls, is doing that, being that...just in a different way.

I keep telling doesn't matter whether or not the new person shows up. I keep telling myself what matters is that I stopped thinking such poor service is what I deserve and went looking for someone who would respect me as a customer, if not as a person.

I am Yours, Lord.  Save me!

Friday, September 09, 2011

Last one done...

Mostly, I sat on the couch clutching Amos today.  Thinking.  Okay...and weeping.

One thought that has been rather sobering and a bit shameful is how grateful I am that I was able to sell my home and leave.  My old neighborhood flooded last night.

My first home purchase was a bit of a discouragement for me.  I learned all the wrong lessons or rather the hard lessons.  For one, I learned about disclosures...after the fact.  No one told me about them.  My realtor was not all that helpful...not all that forth-coming on several items. Had I received a disclosure, I would have learned about the blocked sewage pipe in the front yard.  The one that cost me $15,000 to repair not all that long after becoming a homeowner.  In some ways, I feel like some things about the home purchase were bait and switch type stuff.

When I sold, I was very honest about the many upgrades that I had effected and the on-going issue of water in the basement.  The neighborhood flooded in 2006, and my home was spared.  I had some water, the way I had had before with strong rains, but no flooding like many of my neighbors endured.  So many opinions I gathered; the common consensus was that I need a french drain system, that the water was a drainage issue.  The good part about the home was that there was a drop-off of several feet between the back of the house and the end of the back yard, with an additional larger drop-off just on the other side of the alley.  So, I was just outside of a flood plain.

I sold for much less than the house was worth, which bothered me.  But, as I noted recently realized that in the sale, I was able to pay for my mortgage here for a year and cover my moving costs.  That is a remarkable gain to me.

The County sent a cadre of Army Corp Engineers to study the flooding in 2006.  A plan was chosen amongst three options.  And nothing happened.  The federal government wanted the County to pay.  The County wanted the federal government to pay. Five years later, that stand-off has cost many their homes and possessions...again.  Cars piled up.  Rescue boats retrieving stranded folk.  Homes ruined.

Because I was able to sell, I lost nothing in the flood.  Because I was able to sell, I was not evacuated last night, left scrambling to find a play to stay.  Because I was able to sell, I am not facing such devastating circumstances.  I move, and my old neighborhood was socked with big snow, an earthquake, and now flooding.  I move, and I have had nothing but favorable weather (save for the same three-week dome heat wave much of the country experienced) and easy circumstances (pit bull attack not withstanding), by comparison. 

A part of me has spent the day in a bit of shock and guilty relief over what I escaped in the move.  I do not wish ill on the next homeowner, but I am VERY grateful it is not I who is faced with the overwhelming problems flooding brings.

Such a swirl of emotions in my heart.  Such a whirlwind of thoughts filling my mind.

I wanted very much to log back on and see how those whom I have come to care about on Facebook are faring.  Yet the hurt and the fear of yesterday stayed my hand.  To distract myself as I felt as if I were drowning again, I dragged Amos outside to sit in the yard while I tackled the last bed that needed tending.

It is the one at the front, left side of the house as you face it.  The one that had the trumpet vine I chopped down. The one that had the beleaguered ferns I tried to rescue.  All summer long, I have battled trumpet vine shoots and those ferns struggled to survive.  My goal: dig up eight inches of dirt in the entire bed in an effort to rip out all the roots from those shoots and hack away on the stump that I had left.  The bed is about two feet wide and ten or so feet long.  I felt I could do this, having recovered somewhat from working too hard on Tuesday digging the ditch for the electrician and ripping out the ground cover from the bed to the left of the back steps, planting the bushes, and spreading more mulch.

I told myself just eight inches deep.  No more no matter what I found.  In that goal, I succeeded.

I had thought to get out the chain saw and try to fire it up again to get at the stump, but since I exposed it, I was able to stand on it and move it from side to side until it broke.  I am not sure if that is enough, but what is left is covered by eight inches of dirt and four inches of mulch. I am hopeful.

I did end up with an entire yard waste bag of shoot roots and trimmings from the small holly bush on the front corner of the house (it has been horribly pruned in the past and I am at a loss as to how to shape it properly).  Hauling the bag to the alley was hard, but rewarding.  Dare I claim victory over the trumpet vine for the bed?  Only time will tell.

Before starting my dig fest, I set aside the ferns.  When I was done, I replanted the ferns in a row toward the back-middle of the bed.  At the very back, I buried the gutter extension hose, but left it high so the bed slopes away from the house.  So, the back-middle of the bed is filled with a row of ferns.  In front of that, I planted the remaining 50 cent mums that I had bought, filling each hole with Osmocote and potting soil.  And, as I indicated, covered the entire bed with a generous topping of mulch.  Hopefully both ferns and mums will be happier now, between having tilled soil, the boost from potting soil and fertilizer about their roots, tucked in securely with mulch, and (hopefully) no longer plagued by trumpet vine shoots.

Amos whimpered and howled in front of the gate to the back yard the entire time.  He thought I was cruel for not allowing him to help me dig up the dirt and spread the mulch.  I wasn't up to trying to hold onto his leash while I worked.

We are at least on speaking terms today, since he achieved proper disposition of his bodily waste.  We did have words about rolling in the mulch again.  I cannot figure out why it is he loves it so.  I mean, I actually enjoy the smell of mulch, but I do manage to restrain myself from rolling about in the stuff.

To date, in the past two weeks, I have spread 33 bags of mulch. I have seven remaining.  Those will go in the beds where I am leaving the ground cover (a variegated version that is more hardy in dry conditions)--one of which is for Amos since he LOVES to lie down in the stuff.  I want to wait until the ground cover dies off for the winter. I will then till the ground a bit and cover the beds with mulch.

As far as digging up the ground cover, double-digging the bed to till it, planting replacement items, and mulching goes, today I completed my fifth and final bed.  My body will be grateful for the cessation of arduous labor.  My mind will not.  Killing myself in the yard has been helpful in getting through the first two weeks of the hiatus from my help.

Four weeks to go.  I do not see a way through that. I truly do not.

I am Yours, Lord.  Save me!

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Where wallflowers don't belong...

What I completely do not understand about myself is why, when I know that I am better off as a hermit, do I find myself doing non-hermit things?  Add to that is my confusion over my utter inability to be social.  I know I am a wall flower.  I know that wall flowers wilt under social pressure. And they break when out about in the social melee.  Still, I tried not to be a wall flower.  Stupid, silly me.  I repeat...stupid, silly me.

Yes, I am having a bad day. A part of me wilts at just those words.  What else is new, Myrtle?  I am tired, because I worked too hard in the yard--though the results are impressive and bolstering.  I am frustrated, because my laptop replacement of the replacement laptop crashed when I first started trying to load my software on it.  And I am struggling, because I am without the twice weekly support I have been getting to navigate the murky, raging waters of the Pandora's box that has been opened.   The first week was hard. This one exponentially more so.

Today is the day I would normally be with her.  Today is the day I would not be alone with the things of my past and the things in my head and the fears of both.  And the pit bull.  That wretched pit bull. 

Only, I was.  And the day was bad, colossally bad.  So disappointed was I that for the third time the firewood person failed to show up or even call about not showing up.  Deeply disappointed because I know that I have been struggling more and more, finding it difficult to shake off the volunteering fiasco and recover from the night terrors that remain, and fires calm and soothe me so. 

So, I wail on my Facebook status.  Truth be told, all day I did, with each successful Dell frustration...being disconnected three times, spending more than two hours on hold, and the ludicrous announcement that the solution would be to send a technician to my home to repair the replacement computer that had a problem from the moment I started it up.  Replacement computers should not require repair the first day of ownership.

I express my weariness with the day and with myself.  And a comment is made that comes across as Law to a person already crushed with her sin.  An immediate second of the comment felt like a second lash across my rather wounded and weary body.  I tried to speak about how weary and fragile I am from this day, even mentioning the lack of access to my help, to ward off any further commentary on my faith failure, and another comment comes straight away, harsher than the first, followed by the close second once more.

Neither one was spoken in unkindness.  But I was shocked after trying to say that I was not up for admonishment, that I was struggling, to have my cry fall on deaf ears.  To have my cry for help, really, go unheeded.

I don't belong out in the world.  I do not.  I have said that repeatedly here, so I have only myself to blame for the hurt that is washing over me, drowning me at the moment.

Really, I suppose, the problem is that I want Facebook to be something it is not.  It is not a support system.  Those people on my friends list are not really friends or family.  They are not a cadre of gentle folk who will not weary of my struggle.  I do not have a wall of cheerleaders urging me on in the war raging for my life, for my soul.  They are on there to have fun, to joke, to hang out...not to be my support system.  Not to stand beside me, swinging his sword at my stand between my foe and me.

I do not agree with the comment that followed with my plea to not fling an arrow my way.  It was about that I was forgetting Jesus died for me.  I have not forgotten that.  Crawling on my knees because I am tired and discouraged and afraid, saying that is where I am, does not mean that I have forgotten that.  I mean, the rejoinder could have been a gentle, sweet reminder that Jesus knows all about crawling, bloody and wounded.  Instead, what I hear, what I receive is that Myrtle is denying her baptism or despising the Gospel or making Christ's death moot.  I am not doing those things.  At least not any more than the sinner in me does every single blooming day. 

I know this isn't making sense, to be sure.  I just was foolish to stand vulnerable in my weakness thinking I might have someone slip an arm around my waist when really I should have known that what I would have is someone pointing out the folly of my weakness.

I really felt pummeled after already having taken a beating.  Right now, as I have been ever since those comments flashed upon my screen, I am scared of both how I feel and how weak I am.

 I am not the suffering saint. I am not the person who looks up from the ground and praises God for the blood mingling with the dirt and the bruises spreading across her body.  I do not lay there exulting in my tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within my heart through the Holy Spirit who was given to me (Romans 5:3-5).

I want to be that child of God.  I truly do.  That I am not crushes me even more.

Lord, I believe.  Help my unbelief!

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

An unexpected blessing...

I have had many blessings in the move here, but one of them has been so very unexpected and so very profound in its impact upon my life:  The weather.  The why of this is difficult to fully explain.

I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis September 13, 1994 and have essentially lived indoors since due to the danger and debilitating effects of weather that might be enjoyable to you, but is too warm for me. Even the 70s, if humid, can be too much.  No longer are picnics or outings enjoyable to me.  I would grow frustrated and discouraged when the people I was with would insist on eating outside at restaurants.  I hated it because the majority of my attention was on how miserable I would feel and the price I would pay later.  Working in the yard--an activity that brings such stillness and peace to me--meant spending days recovering and was genuinely foolish and poor judgment to do.  At times, it seems the whole world lives and socializes outside, while I am trapped inside.

Today is Day 4 with no AC by my own choice. That truly boggles my mind!

I have spent more time outdoors now than I have probably since I was diagnosed--no exaggeration. I have spent hours and hours each day, sitting upon the back steps or lying in the grass (even though this is rather disconcerting to my neighbors).  Even on the warm summer days, evening cool breezes make sitting outside possible for me.  We had three weeks of the dome heat wave and this past week three days of stinking hot weather.  Other than that, with the AC cooling the house and the breezes cooling the great outdoors, I have been able to spend time outside nearly every day that was not filled with rain...even in the summer. Even in the summer!  

I feel so clumsy trying to put the joy and solace and peace of being able to do so into words.  I need sweeping metaphors, grandiose figurative language, and yet all I really have are tears of joy.  For one who has wept much over the past year, joyous tears are a most welcome gift.

I have seen sunsets that I have missed so dearly and bring thanksgiving for a Creator who loves us so to bring such beauty into our world.  I saw lightening bugs for the first time in decades, marveling in the creative mind and love of our Creator once more.  Mr. Hummingbird is a great companion, a true wonder and joy to behold. [Mostly, I think that I bought the pink bush just for him.]  I have watched baby bunny grow and frolic about the back yard.  I have seen Amos find his own kind of joy in sitting amongst the ferns or lying amongst the thistle.  A much as I would rather him not crush my plants, he sighs such deep contentment at those times that my protests fall silent as I join him in his moment of peace.

In my illness and anguish, I have been soothed in a way I am hard pressed to explain simply be being able to savor the out of doors.  In moving here, having heard the winters were harsh (I found it balmy) and the summers steaming (I find it perfect), I would never have expected this blessing.

And now, thanks to new friends, I was able to purchase a lawn chair a few days ago.  My the pleasure I have already had resting comfortably in the zero-gravity contraption!  Amos has even figured out how to join me.  [Yes, we have both napped in it!]

Indiana weather is glorious to me, a most blessed gift of my Good Shepherd. The mercy of God come to me, Myrtle, in a way I can grasp...the sun across my face, the fragrance of creation wafting about me, the wonder of His creatures before me, the breeze whipping through my hair, the moon shining down upon me, the stars twinkling above me.  All these things I have not been able to savor for years and years and years.  I believe that is undeniable in how God made smooth the rocky path before me that I might come to a place that is good for me in body and mind and spirit. For this, I give thanks and praise and hope that you might rejoice with me.

Lord, I believe.  Help my unbelief!

Saturday, September 03, 2011

I need a razor of one size or another...

I awoke rather ill today.  This is so hard to explain, but it is my head.  I think..that blasted nerve on the back of my head.

Imagine a cocktail of ever so slight nausea, dizziness, pain, and weakness.  Abject misery.  My hair hurts to move.  No braids. No bun. Just hanging there it hurts. Every time I move my head or even just my eyes, the malaise worsens.  If I am perfectly still, it eases, but does not disappear.   

At such times, I wish to just grab up a razor and shave my head.  Only lying down on a pillow bald would still make me ill.  Being bald might make it slightly more bearable, but it is not my hair making me ill, but something in my head.  Not even Dr Pepper helps.  In fact, I do not even care to consume Dr Pepper.

A guillotine, perhaps?


I am Yours, Lord.  Save me! 

Thursday, September 01, 2011


It's been seven and a half weeks.  For everyone else, it's over.  For me, it's not.  No one really asks about it.  No one really speaks about it.  Over.  Past.  Move on.

I don't know how to do that.

My neighbor saw my knee tonight. I had pulled my pants up to figure out why it was itching.  [Somehow I got bitten over a dozen times while wearing pants.] She gasped and then asked me if it still hurt.  It does.  I need to see another doctor, but I am too weary to do so. Too afraid, really, since talking about what happened is still hard.

I still have scars on my body.  One, at least, will not be going away, as it is already hypertrophic.  I do not see the others leaving either.  Maybe still fading.  But that they remain now is hard for me. I look in the mirror and see them and I am back on that street, screaming over and over and over again.

I am screaming and falling and feeling my grip on Amos slipping. The concrete is grinding into my knees and wrists and elbows and head. My muscles are trembling. Terror has made the whole world recede to just this small patch of earth, where I am fighting for Amos' life.  And I am losing. I will lose.  Just once more trip to the ground and no matter how desperately I want to get up I will remain on the ground. The violence of it all.  Crashing to the ground. Stumbling to my feet. Screaming. Terrified.  Bleeding.  My blood.  Amos'  My screams.  His.  Amos...he is already my world.  How can I lose him now?

I catch sight of my scars, and try as I might not to be...I am there.  Terrified. Trembling.  Lost.  Alone.

Amos has scars, too. The one that bothers me most is from the deep puncture wound in his side.  It is shiny and so completely different from the rest of his skin.  It is hairless.  And it bothers him when I try to touch it.  It bothers him even when I do not.

So much, filling my mind and my heart.  Would it were that the scars were not also across my skin. In so many places.  Too many to avoid.

Lord, I am Yours.  Save me!