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SOUR AND SWEET

So I began a journey 3 months ago, when I went to the endodontist to fix an infection in an old root canal.  They discovered my blood pressure was 245/145, which for those of you who are unfamiliar, is a stroke level blood pressure, referred to as hypertensive crisis.

I already care for my immigrant mother who is post stroke since 2004.  She went from a vibrant 66 year old to a right side paralytic, who no longer speaks.  Her response to music is there, but no words.  Having been illiterate most of her life, television is her only repose except for watching her great grandchildren bustle about her.

It’s taken 3 long months of bed rest and experimenting with meds to get me somewhat stable.  My family has endured months of spiraling emotions, schedule changing, and unexpected household challenges while I lay flat in an attempt to keep my pressure from exploding something in my head or my heart.

Something, however, did explode in my heart.

Vulnerability.

The vulnerability of laying bedridden and watching the sun rise and set while others hustled about me was tough for a type A person.

However, rest allowed me to grieve the loss of my beloved, less than 2 years ago.  That pain never really subsides, it remains much like my blood pressure…silent.

Occasionally, I find that the tears will emerge as a memory drifts in like a lone candle in the cold night and I find my heart chasing a beloved memory as the candle goes out and the momentary light fades into twilight, along with the brokenness of my heart.

My blood pressure medicaitons have left me with a lingering metallic taste in my mouth that makes food not as appealing, but the wanting, the hunger, remains.

I guess the loss of anything is like that.  I know the loss of my most special of friends has left me also wanting.

In life, there aren’t many people I have met that are actually real.  So much brokenness, pain, and fear.  It’s not the pain and problems I fear, but the fact that no one feels brave enough to talk about it, deal with it and hope for more.  I’ve been somewhat asleep the last couple of years. There is a black hole in my life since his passing, sucking all life, all I know as my universe into it.  I don’t lack the courage to stand again, even as the void left by losing the one who brought me sunshine and flowers, welcoming arms, and a love of life is worse than any pain I have yet endured.  Just tired.  Weary of searching for people with passion for life.

I am disillusioned by the ever-imposing truth that there isn’t anyone out there that is unafraid to be real, transparent, and vulnerable.

So as I searched for a way to make this overpowering taste of metal dissipate from my mouth, I found a pill, miraculin, in a product aptly named, Miracle Berry Fruit Tablets.  They make sour taste sweet!  I had seen a science special on it and now learned it is used with chemo patients to help their taste buds return to normal so they can eat.  For most of us, it turns the sour to sweet.  I’m hoping for anything to help me enjoy the foods I love, but it did make me ponder.

It sure would be nice it we could have such a pill for people, wouldn’t it?  For those who find life somewhat sour, depressing, lonely, and dark. it would be wonderful to savor life again and enjoy the sunlight, being alone, and highlights of life.  Just one pill.

Now, as a nurse. I know they make pills they claim can  bring more life, more joy, and just plain MORE than you feel right now; but somehow, the body knows.  It knows it’s not real.  It’s like the face they paint on “The Drummer Boy”.  It suffices to hide the pain, the illusion of great, without the reality.

My pills get here this weekend.  It’s snowing outside right now and I want to climb under my blanket, pull the covers over my head and pray that like spring,  the sun does shine after winter.  Hopefully, when I pull the blanket off, it will truly be warm and I will find the sun is shining again and the will to continue is present in the ground below, just waiting to push its way into the light and perhaps give one blossom to the world with an enduring aroma that inspires those who pass by to remember.  Just as the smell of pines reminds me of Christmases long ago, when as children we still have the naivete to believe in things we can’t see and await moments of reunion with family that has now long departed but still remembered.

I found that “miracle” pill long ago that has the capacity to leave the taste of wonder and joy and cloak the heart in the miraculous amidst a world of hypocrisy and disappointment.  It still abides.  It still holds true.  It is LOVE.    Only now, it has to span the place between this world and the next, but I still remember when its aroma was strong, its presence, close and its reality, present.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The First Cut is the Deepest…Divorce

Just read a young mother’s post on her blog about an impending divorce.  Don’t know all the details but did identify with the feelings she is facing.

It was almost 30 years ago I met my high school sweetheart.  He was a jock wrestler, which I didn’t know at the time or probably wouldn’t have gone out with him.  Most of the friends I had that joined sports ended up leaving their old friends behind for the popularity game.

Jeff and I would attend community college together and marry before we headed to University…so much for a honeymoon.  The next 4 years we spent with him in Engineering school and I in Nursing.  Many of our high school friends were at university also and married.  The single guys would jest with him that he must be “getting it all the time”.  How crude but also untrue.

In the 80’s AIDS was still pretty new on the scene and being in Nursing school helped me draw some necessary lines due to my husband’s infidelity.  He’d pretty much been a MENSA pothead and alcohol user since he was preteen. I, on the other hand, never did drugs and after having an alcoholic wifebeater for a dad, I stayed away from alcohol.  We’d fought a lot about his DUI’s and indiscretions during our high school and college years and I withdrew sexually from him in the 2nd year of our 4 year marriage.  He continued his bad habits until my junior year in nursing school and then decided his husbandly rights were being violated one night after a long day at the hospital and studying for midterms.

I woke up to pressure on my chest and by the time I figured out he was on top of me and forcing himself on me, it was too late.  I begged him not to do this.  He knew about my past as a victim of child sexual abuse and I had worked so hard I think because of my past to ignore his infidelities, figuring maybe it was my own fault…that I wasn’t NORMAL.  I participated in all he wanted to do and dabbled in porn videos early in our marriage because that’s what he wanted, but this night he just told me to lay there, B—-and it will be over soon.  I cried. I laid still and somewhere in it, I fell asleep.  The next year is a blur of continued violation when I least expected it and then he graduated and separated from me, going for a job in civil service.

I thought it would be easier with him gone, but it wasn’t.  Now, I was alone to face the pain of the past, the failing of my marriage, and the beginning of my senior year.  I went into a depression and thank God for a couple of wonderful friends who found me at the bottom of my misery, alone in my trailer, no food, no money, and no hope.

It took me a month to eat lettuce.  Jeff had seen to it that I was left with a junky car, debts from credit cards I got as a senior which he used to buy dinner and gifts for other women, and with my mother out of the country, I had not help from family.  I thought about going to the police about the rape but in the 80’s…they just laughed and said what everyone else said…he’s your husband..so it’s not rape.  ARGH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Like my body wasn’t my own.  in those days, women had to have their husbands sign sterilization papers or they couldn’t obtain the necessary surgery regardless of the threat to their health and being left with multiple children and no support.  Sounds crazy, right?

Believe it or not, I tried to reconcile twice that year.  I think because my parents were divorced when no one else in our neighborhood was and they labeled us as their children, some ugly names and apparently my mother who worked two jobs became a swinger.  The only swinging she did was swing shifts from assembly line work to nights as a hotel housekeeper.  I didn’t want to be labeled a divorcee’.  After an attempt at the second reconciliation and exhausting my student loan money on his reckless spending, I went to my university law school and the kind gentleman told me I could get a lawyer for free as a student.  Finally, some sunshine in my dark world.

We had to threaten him with jail time for running up credit cards that weren’t his, but he finally signed and I got my divorce 3 days before I graduated nursing school.  He attended my graduation; I’m not exactly sure why, but he mentioned how I had changed my name on my degree and I countered with why would I have his name on a degree I earned and that truth be told my name should be on his engineering degree since I pushed him all the way through.  He said I looked great. I replied that the starvation diet is an amazing way to lose weight. He proceeded to follow my friends and i the whole night like some predator waiting to pounce.  I went home a few months later and he found out I was in town and accosted me at a gas station and grabbed me by the arm saying I was his.  I told him that might have been true once, but never again.  He pretty much trashed me with friends in my hometown, being there a year before me. Many felt uncomfortable and just disappeared into the background of life.  Some would still welcome me, knowing how bad he was and they encouraged me to keep my head up.

I remember still the day the judge asked me if I wanted my own name back.  I felt somewhat like the slaves when they were set free.  Who is that?  I hadn’t known that name for 9 years and I held someone else’s name for 4 years.  I replied yes, but not really sure about the mess of feelings laying within me.

I’ve been remarried now 26 years.  He’s kind, generous, compassionate, loyal, and we’ve had 2 children.  Is life happier?  Soimewhat.  I can honestly say it’s safer.  We talk. We’ve loved, but we’ve also realized that we thought we knew what love was, but we didn’t .  He tries but struggles trying to find the reins for what he calls, a “mustang”.  It’s sad that after all this time we find ourselves friends, but without purpose.  We have a type of love, but not the forever eternal kind of love.  I have tried to love many times, but been loved my only one.  One who knew the One who loves unconditionally, whole-heartedly and eternally.  I knew him for 15 years and he was a most precious friend who taught me the beauty that God placed within me, the love God intended and the pain of losing a friend most precious in his giving and forgiving spirit.  He died 6 months ago and so now I continue in the love he showed me and the faith I have that I will see him again.

My husband feels the same way.  He’s lost a brother in the Lord and his example can only be described as one of a kind.  We now find ourselves united in our grieving for one who showed us how love never fails and still abides in the memories we share together.  We live each day now trying to give to one another as friends and parents and grandparents.

Holidays…ba humbug?!

Last week I faced physical pain and heartache that kept me from meeting some social obligations.  People inquired where I was and sent good wishes, but one person emailed me with words of disappointment that I had not met their expectations, their invitation and that they couldn’t deal with my depression.

For those of you following, I lost my beloved of 15 years 4 months ago and my birthday in September and now the upcoming holidays have kept me in a whirlwind of foggy days and restless nights as I trod uphill through mountains of bills, valleys of loneliness and reality that all has changed.

My daughter replied, when I told her,”How petty”.  I said that my flesh hurt for her, which my daughter promptly replied with a “Humphf!”  I said, this lady struggles with depression and drinks to deal with it.  She has led a long life with many exciting turns but all she wanted was her children.  Her son was injured in an accident at 17 and long story short, she has waited 27 years to get him back. Court battles and the realities of never having grandchildren or enjoying the children she had, has left her lonely and negligent perhaps.  Her pain has left her sensitive to the pain of others but unfortunately also overwhelmed by the pain of others.  My loss is like a tree falling on her and I understood that.

My daughter’s response is because she has seen us minister to so many and yet not much return compassion.  I have learned not to expect that from others, but I must admit at this particular time in my life, it does hurt. I do struggle.  I have little energy for the pain of others as I nurse my own wounds.  I forgive and I love.  It is not easy, but seeing the pain of others stirs within me a greater pain.  The pain that many do not know the Giver of Life as I do and even though I walk through a valley so dark now, I know He is on the other side. I know He walks with me.  I know He loves me.  So I have a greater friend who sees my pain, heals it and wraps His love around me.  So I will go to her home tomorrow to share a wonderful dinner with her and share that which He has given me…grandchildren, children, laughter and hope. It may not impact her life for long, but nonetheless, I will give that which has been given to me….love.

So for those of you who are finding yourselves alone amidst the frivolity of the holidays…I wish I could be there.  I am there.  My world changed 4 months ago, but when I am alone I will cry, hold myself and pray that I will be stronger tomorrow, sleep deeper tonite and dream of things that were, that are and that will be.  So rest tonite and tomorrow….run toward the light, laugh, jump, smile and take a deep breath….and find someone who needs your love and love them!

Doors….some open, some closed

Open the Door

So I was at our local Sheriff’s Office yesterday getting my concealed weapons license and while I was waiting for the processing of my application, i was taken back somewhat by the stark, sterile sense of environment.  Everything was brown, with one-way mirrors and buttons you push to talk to someone through a speaker.  Policemen and women exit and enter, and the heavy security doors shut hard, echoing down a stairwell nearby.  There are no plants, no warmth, and no laughter.

Various people enter and exit.  The lady waiting to be bonded. The boyfriend, speaking into the intercom about when he can pick up his girlfriend for bond. The young man attempting to get his arrest record for impersonating an officer and having his car impounded for evidence (yeah, I wondered) and his girlfriend, quiet and soft spoken and obviously encouraging him that it’ll be okay.

What struck me as odd was the emptiness of it.  It definitely resounds…confinement, boundaries and the only words on every door…Authorized Personnel Only.

It made me think, “the Father has surely opened and closed many doors for me and others.”  Some of the doors are figurative, like the door to choice.  Unfortunately, we don’t always choose good.

The door of the Ark before the flood was closed by God to save a few in a world of bad choices.

Yeshua says, I am the door, if any man enter in, he shall be saved.  He says He stands at the door and knocks and if any man hears His voice and opens the door, He will come in to him, eat with him and the man will eat with Yeshua.

Hebrews 4:15-16:  For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

The above passage stresses the attitude with which those who have chosen Him can enter in…With Confidence, knowing you will receive mercy and grace when you need it.  The other verses speak of a man entering in, but he must first hear and by hearing, I believe follow the One who opened the door for him.

What an amazing opportunity!  God asks us to come to Him, Yeshua knocks at the door, hoping we will open it.  An offer of life.  He says ANY man who enters shall be saved.  Not just authorized personnel.  The door is open if we will walk through it.  How many times in our lives do doors open and we walk through without thinking of where we’re going.

I assume in the above scripture that if we’re knocking on a door, we know where it leads to just as those who exited and entered the doors within this jail, knew what was behind the door.  There is usually not mercy or grace behind those doors. This place is a place where justice is dealt out routinely.

But there is still a door you must open, and behind it is the One who is Justice, Mercy, Compassion and Love.  It’s not too late.  Open the door to your heart and believe that life is greater than where you are right now and someone is offering it to you so come in confidently knowing another has given you authorization, has paid your bond and waits for you.

Open the Door

Be Still…and Know

Be still and know that I am God

These past few months, with the loss of my beloved, I keep searching for the wisdom of God in the loss of life.  I have been in the Lord for 24 years and He has always been faithful to speak when it’s important.  My heart is still in a broken place, even though my spirit, perseveres.

So yesterday, I returned to an old favorite scripture.  My knowledge of Hebrew was not was it is now and so I found a new perspective in the letters I saw with new yes yesterday.  The Hebrew word, for ‘be still’ is “rapha”.  Rapha is one of the covenant names of God, Jehovah Rophe, the one who Heals.  It reads in the literal like this:  the healing or be healed, be purified or complete but can also appear to have the opposite meaning, to be sunken down, powerless…in need of healing.

Perhaps, the rest of the verse will lend some insight.  Be still, and KNOW…this word know in Hebrew is ‘yada’. It is used in knowing someone, but this knowing is a deeper knowing of intimacy, sexually.  Knowing and experiencing with another a connection that supersedes the physical, perhaps.  Be still and know that I AM GOD.  He uses his name Elohim here. The strong, mighty plurality of God.

So let me offer the possibility that He KNOWS you both in your weak, powerless moments of life and that He will complete, heal and purify you because He is a God not too mighty to reach down and touch you, love you, remember you.

I was a nurse for years and my kids would tell you that unless you were broken or bleeding to death, you were going to get a butterfly bandage and all would be okay, as far as I was concerned.  But I remember, always saying these words, “Be Still!”  or “Hold Still!” while I bandaged them up.  I knew if they kept moving, they would injure themselves worse and make it harder for me to finish what I needed to so that they could go on and play and stop hurting.  They would ask me other times, “Is it gonna hurt?”  I said, “I’m going to make it better, but if you don’t be still I can’t finish making it better.”

God may seem slow, but really He’s patient.  So today, be still and wait for the healing that is coming.  He knows it hurts, but if you’ll rest in being powerless and let the One is all Powerful take over, life will be better.  Whether it be a broken heart, a broken spirit, a broken body, or a broken down car…He is there beside you…wait…be still and you will know Him better and that He is a God that will be active in your life and He will prove Himself trustworthy and take His rightful place in your life, lifted up and praised for His goodness and strength.  So…Be still…the Healer is doing His work! You can participate in Your own Healing today by Being Still.

Be still and know that I am God

Waiting…for her, the power of forgiveness

motherchild

It’s been a decade now since my mother-in-law, Lourdes, passed away.  I married her baby son 26 years ago in November.  It was never a great relationship.  She was the ‘matriarch’ of her family but had grown up the baby in her own family.  She had grown up in a large family of Spanish/Taos Indian descent and being the baby she had grown up used to having her way and being the center of attention. Her baby son had always been a treasure for her. She was pregnant 16 years after his birth and being older found comfort and love in his attentive care.  He had married when he was 20 and divorced about 6 years before I met him. I found myself constantly being told about previous memories from his marriage and everyone was “civil”, but it was one of those families where the elephant’s under the rug and everyone walks over it like a speed bump near their favorite shopping place.

There would be many heartbreaks of their disapproval of me or probably the thought that no one was good enough for her son.  I was determined I would prove that wrong.

My own mother had some pretty awful mother-in-laws.  My mother is Korean and both of them were pretty vocal about mixing of white and other ‘races’.  I was described by my own grandmother as that little ‘porch monkey’s children’. I didn’t really understand what that meant but that hillbillies in West Virginia had their own sayings. I would learn. My stepgrandmother referred to us as my son’s wife’s children…ugh!  My mother always held her head up and was kind. When my stepgrandmother broke her hip  and couldn’t get to the bathroom by herself, my mom was the one who wiped the trail of pee from the bed to the bathroom.  She had just been widowed that year but she found pleasure in serving.  After helping her thru breast cancer and the hip injury, my stepgrandma changed her attitude.  I remember still today her telling me how sorry she was as she lay in the hospital bed about her treatment of my mother and how much she loved her and how we truly were her grandchildren and she was blessed to have us.

My story would end much the same.  My mother-in-law was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2000 and went into remission with treatment a year later, but in 2004 after my own mother’s stroke during a procedure, we were informed Lourdes had cancer in her spine and brain.  They both lived in Florida and while I went to rehab for my own mother, now paralyzed and without speech, we took care of Ken’s mom.  I drove from the East Coast to Orlando for a few weeks and then I moved in with my two children.  The other daughter-in-law, Bonnie, lived down the street and between the two of us, we kept her healthy and her spirits up.  I would lay with her at night as she retired to bed and she would stroke my head and thank me for being there .I just cried.  My own mother was withheld from me after weeks of going thru rehab with her.  I raised the youngest brother and the middle one had always been jealous because he lived with my grandma and dad after our parent’s divorce.  In an Asian family, number one son is #1.  My mother always struggled with that issue.  So I was pretty broken when I went into my mother-in-law to tuck her in one night and she asked how things were going and I broke down sobbing. She kept patting me on the back and kissing the top of my head while she lay there and spoke a wonderful gift into my life.  She said, “Cheryl, I pray God blesses you the way you have blessed me during this time. I am sorry for anything I did to you, but I want you to know how much I love you and until you get to see your mom again, I will be your substitute mom.”

I would help care for her for 4 months. I taped many conversations and prayed she would live until her next wedding anniversary which was Christmas Eve. She died December 10, 2004.  The week before we sang praises in her room. My son read her favorite psalms. I finished all the tapes and gave them as a Christmas gift.  Each family member received a recording of her speaking about how she felt about them and their favorite picture of her in a travel alarm clock.  I knew how important hearing her voice might be later.

My mother cannot speak anymore and is paralyzed on her right side. She is not the energetic, servant heart  she was before, but she is still with us. I got her back about 7 years ago.  It’s not easy. I also have my two grandsons and daughter living with me.  But, there are times when I lay next to my mama and tell her how much I love her and forgive her for all the pain we endured together.  She cries, strokes my head and kisses my face and we weep that things are not as we hoped but we love one another.  She was the first one who changed my diapers and now we change hers. She came to America hoping to have a better life and raise a family and she did. She can’t read and write and now there is no voice, but I hear her still. I hear her in the love she gave and that I also followed as I loved others that were many times, not lovely; I pray for her deliverance but I am always grateful for her presence.

So to all mothers, both stay-at-home and working.  Don’t think your children don’t see and learn. We’re watching your offerings of love, your perseverance, your willingness to serve and we will be going forward doing the same and remembering what we learned as we weep, hold you, and await the day we must walk through this life and do the same.  Your voice will always be there as it was the day we took that first step and you celebrated our step into the world and nursed us when we fell.

Do not grow weary in doing good, the Word says, for in due time you shall reap a harvest if you do not lose heart.  One mother’s gift of life would bring us our Messiah and He would bring eternal life for all who desire to walk loving, giving and serving purely for its own sake.  May He bless you today.