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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Life…Who Decides Response to Freshly Pressed Abort and Try Again

Always ready to save a Life

Always ready to save a Life

I just read a post on Freshly Pressed, Abort and Try Again and it prompted me to give a testimony to those who are looking for encouragement at the news of carrying a baby that by the world’s terms isn’t perfect.

I worked since 1985 in Labor and Delivery as a nurse.  I have seen many tragedies and many miracles.  I entered the field when I was still a teen. I am a premie born 3 months early at 2lbs, 2oz.  I was born in the days of gloves reaching into an incubator. We hadn’t the benefit of studies on bonding.  Mothers were generally anesthetized and laid flat spending days in a hospital to recover from what was supposed to be natural.  I was one of the lucky ones, I ate, gained weight and went home. All my siblings were also premies; My mother had 11 children, one a set of twins, and only 3 of us lived.  So I chose this area of the hospital because I could be around life and women and encourage them through their experiences.

My youngest living brother was born at a military hospital in 1964, 8 months after my younger brother.  He was 3 1/2 pounds.  My mother had a history of not handling anesthesia well so she went without meds.  Tom was born with a cord around his neck and the doctors did not untangle it before he was born and so he suffered from cerebral palsy.  There’s no suing the government, but my Korean mother’s lack of English put her at a disadvantage anyway.  They told her Tom would be a “vegetable” so better to institutionalize him.  Thank God, all my mother knew was it was her baby and no one was taking him away. 

Tom would endure much in his younger years.  He didn’t walk until he was 3. We put him in a rocking chair and looking back he seemed autistic.  His eyes were crossed so he didn’t see well either. My father was gone most of the time overseas and so my mother did whatever she could. She taught us to drag him across the floor while she moved his legs in a crawling motion.  We put on music and tried to stimulate him (he still loves music today..and no, he can’t sing..well).  Being Asian American didn’t serve us well. Kids would push him down under monkey bars and we would find him sitting and playing with kids taunting him from above. He was unable to move because he wore braces on his legs. They didn’t have joints in them so he was basically trapped, straight-legged in the dirt.  It still amazes me how authorities look the other way when kids hurt one another, figuring kids will be kids.  But he endured and so did my other brother and I.

We had so many doctor’s visits. At 9, Tom got eye surgery and his eyes now faced forward. He wore those black-rimmed spectacles (not cool back then) and generally sat on them to avoid kids calling him names.  His vision was terrible but within a few years, it was perfect.  In his teens, his muscles grew faster than his bones and he was flatfooted. He wanted to run, but the doctors said no.  Tom exercised, ran, cried in doorways trying to stretch muscles and keep them from shortening so he could run. He did run and set records in our high school, much to the amazement of others. 

In 7th grade, we realized he couldn’t read and stuttered terribly.  You can imagine the hassling we all got when Tom was around.  He always got stuck on the word, “i” and “and”.  So it was like talking to a machine gun and kids definitely took advantage of that. He was left-handed, too to make things more complicated.  They put him in special education. We had never taught Tom the word, handicapped and it only took one day before he demanded to be put  back in his regular classes.  I worked with him nightly, typing his English assignments and practicing Math until he could get it neatly on the page.  Teachers gave many praises.  They said if grades included effort, Tom would always get an, “A”.  Tom would have a surgery that replaced part of his upper thigh with a titanium rod about 9 inches long. He has a massive scar from it and this was back in the 70’s.  He still works on that one leg and suffers with arthritis and eventual trouble walking when he retires from pushing it too far.  He later became a firefighter and packs get heavy in the midst of a fire. Tom played the flute and had an extraordinary knack for taking things apart and putting them back together.  He had a lawn mowing business in high school and fixed “mopeds”(remember those…lots of fun).  The lawn mowing business would lead to a mobile van landscaping and plumbing apprentice. 

Tom decided he wanted a career and after high school, began EMT school.Then, he progressed to paramedic and eventually RN, Supervisor, Angel Flights, American Heart Association, Coordinator of EMT program, Massage Therapy, and a degree in Hospital Administration, Business, and now schooling in Nurse Practitioner.  He is an inspiration to us all.

He has saved lives and was named firefighter of the year a few years ago in Port Orange, Florida for saving the life of a little boy found floating in a canal.  His motto is you never give up, especially when its a child. He believes they are resilient and he says he can live easier knowing he tried. That little boy survived with almost no noticeable setbacks.

I know many days he suffers the pain of walking on a leg that has endured so much but his spirit is intact.  He doesn’t know what life would have been like it my mother had given in, if we hadn’t all pitched in together and believed and helped him do his best.  But, it is truly his doing.  The love and beliefs of others are a great foundation, but each child or person must decide for themselves to endure, to fight, to persevere for what they want despite the meanderings of others. 

I do not feel sorry for him, but I remember on days when i feel I can’t go on that he did.  Many are alive today because he did not give up but he will tell you that his mother made the difference. Her strength, her courage, and her love created what others saw as a “vegetable” into whose life is a testimony to love and to what the Father says in His Word.  What they intended for evil, God intended for good.  There is no greater love than to lay down your life for a friend.  And so I will end with a quote from the One who gives life and whose opinion it is that life continues; the One who loves without being asked to, whose there when all give up hope, the light in the darkness and who thankfully gives us parents, siblings, friends, strangers who see beyond the outside of a person.

For it is written,
            “I WILL DESTROY THE WISDOM OF THE WISE,
            AND THE CLEVERNESS OF THE CLEVER I WILL SET ASIDE.”

20Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. 22For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; 23but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, 24but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

      26For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; 27but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, 28and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, 29so that no man may boast before God. 30But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, 31so that, just as it is written, “LET HIM WHO BOASTS, BOAST IN THE LORD.”

I Corinthians 1: 18-31 NASB, emphasis mine

The Unsung Heroes: These links will give you a happy cry.

So tonite my daughter is showing You Tube Videos to make me cry. Hmm, I’ve done a lot of that lately. But I wanted others to go and watch. Here are the links to two of them by Thai Life Insurance http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uaWA2GbcnJU ,www.youtube.com/watch?v=_qtqmaIag-8 , http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5GWzhKwxJ8Q .

If copying the links don’t work they are under youtube titles Thai Life Insurance Unsung Hero, Forget Me Not, and Marry Me.

So, I’m not sure who writes these commercials, but I am grateful that they help us remember those of us who are the unsung heroes or know of some unsung heroes. Unsung heroes enter and exit our lives and we never know their name, but may remember an act of kindness; Who doesn’t need that unexpected hug, visit, bouquet of flowers, cup of coffee or compliment?

A few days after my beloved died, I went to Office Depot to get some of his bible studies copied, and I was dealing with insurance on the phone and pretty much sobbing at the desk. The girl who rang me up at the register felt awkward, I’m sure, but she tried to help me get done quickly. As I was standing at the register, a young woman touched my back and as I turned to look at her, she said, “You’re hair is so beautiful!” She couldn’t know that was one of the things my beloved always said. Another shop owner who knows us was the first one to pray with me when I called and sobbed on the phone. She offered to come in early and meet me if I needed a friend to have a cup of coffee with. And just this week a neighbor offered to help me take the flat tire off my car (it has been stuck on the car for a month). We joked about how to tell my brother that I did it with a hammer and WD40. He still thinks I did it alone. That particular neighbor shared with me how he lost his best friend a year and half ago and how it still hurts when he thinks about him. He told me, amidst involuntary tears,”It’s because you loved him so much and that’s just okay.”

I wrote him an email today and thanked him for taking the time to help me and share with and encourage me. He allowed me to just be me. Didn’t tell me it would get better, he just let me cry and said, Better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. The loss is always challenging, whether it be death or break-up. The heart doesn’t really want to accept loss, even when the brain tells it so.

So today, like in the the movie, “Pay It Forward“, give someone something unexpected without reward. Do unto the least of these in your life, whether they are your neighbor, friend, stranger,pet, or child. Just give some piece of yourself in kindness, compassion,and love.

I’ve been to so many churches where I heard the same comment, “No one ever did that before”. Many of these people had been in church a long time. I was a new believer then, but all I did was respond to the situation. If they were crying, I comforted; if they seemed a little down, I asked how they were; and if others mocked them, I encouraged them and at times dealt with the mockers. People who mock always feel more powerful, I guess, when another suffers.

I’ve been a defender of their victims almost all my life. Probably because of my upbringing as an Asian/Polack female. I had strikes against me in my own Korean subculture because I was female and opinionated and Polack jokes..need I say more. Being Asian and eating Asian wasn’t as cool as it is today. People can be cruel when you are different, and my Polish family pretty much disowned us. But somehow thru all the trials, the put downs, the beatings, I knew what my mama said in her broken English was true, “You special Shalee and people not like special”. And as I look back remembering the spit in my face, the rocks at my back, and the beatings at the hands of my own peers I hear the words of Tevya in “Fiddler on the Roof“…”I know we are the chosen people, but can you choose somebody else, sometime?”

Nope, He’s chosen those who have suffered to endure suffering and come to the aid of others. Those who are not so beautiful, not so smart, not so tall, and afraid, to find the courage to stand up when others run, to carry burdens as others walk by, and to continue to be faithful in a world that has forgotten its promises, commitments, perseverance and exchanged it for selfishness, betrayal and drive-thru relationships. Left behind is a flood of disillusioned, angry, broken-hearted and unfortunately, lost and lonely individuals.

His word says God uses the foolish things of the world to shame that which thinks it’s wise; and He has chosen the weak things of the world to shame which thinks itself strong,and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God.

Respectfully,

One who knows when I am weak, I am strong.