The First Day

IMG_0112The first day, without my mother in the world, was last Friday.  I think my mother’s passing may make me a kinder, more loving person.  She was that way.  She didn’t just like a person, she tried to understand them.  And in that, she found the gray areas between  behavior, heart, and the soul:  they don’t always add up, and good people can do things that baffle the mind.  To cut to the heart, my mom would ask the question “why?”.  She would question aloud with an “I wonder….”.  She tried to look deeper than the surface, into the creation underneath.  And with those words every concept, supposition, and black-and-white answer, would get thrown out the window — knowing people were more complex than a singular action, and the answer may never be known.

She was our best friend, our confidant, our supporter, our cheering section, and our kick-in-the-butt when needed.  And it’s almost like, now that her spirit is free, she is filling us with her essence.  I can hear her saying “c’mon, c’mon now — let’s go, let’s go”.  She was hooked up to oxygen and an  IV and still insisting she had things to do, places to go — something productive, something worthy, something joyful.

And she found joy in many things — cooking, and perfecting her sauce; a “dunk” in the lake or pool on a hot day, or just taking notice of nature around her; and being with family.  She was a shy person, a woman of many talents, but held back by the times she was borne into — she wanted to be a nurse, but was discouraged at a young age; she loved to paint but set it aside to raise children.   Nevertheless, she shone.  And she was always willing to make a home for the stray animals my sister found, or feed a lost soul, or give advice to whomever needed and asked for it.

She was kind in her honesty, something I never mastered.  She didn’t care about anyone’s color, or choice of life companion — she taught us from a young age that it was their soul and spirit that mattered.  And she could see deep into a person’s heart.

Our mom was smart, a force to be reckoned with when something mattered, and loving.   I feel her essence filling me with memories of who she was… who she still is.  My mom is the best part of who I am, might be, and still hope to become and I’m blessed to see her, everyday, in my daughters.

 

A Quest for Self-Truth

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About September, 2003 the pastor of my church, Pastor Peter Scazzaro, wrote a wonderfully powerful book entitled “Emotionally Healthy Spirituality”. Opening up those pages began a journey for me that I had no idea I would go on. Many times, over the years, I closed the book, putting it away for long periods of time, and then finding it and picking it up again. As a church, and in our women’s small group, we would read and learn and explore the paths together. But, I was blind. I couldn’t see and I couldn’t learn. I was in a darkness that was clouded over by anger over my life’s choices.  Eventually, this book would become my second bible, leading me to a path of self-truth.

In January, 2015, the last bits I was trying to hold together unraveled and was, unexpectedly, amazingly, put back together again, seemingly over-night … well, actually it took three days. Every so often, at different places in my life, I had the realization of there being a distinct difference between how it is when the world breaks me, and how it is when God breaks me; There is a universe of difference between the two. I know that when the world breaks me, the pieces are scattered, do not easily fit back together. Scars are formed. Some hurts do not heal. But when God allows me to be broken, under His watch, and by His hand, He knits me back together beautifully and wonderfully — all hurts are healed. He is the Potter and I am the clay.

I was given the gift of being broken by God, this past January, that allowed my husband and I to start over again from square one — a rare thing, I think. To actually begin again from a new place emotionally. To wash away pain, hurt, and anger of the past 39 years and 11 months, from the year we met to the present, of our own brokenness, together (“Broken Together” by Casting Crowns — a beautiful song!). It was three days of struggling for the purpose of clearing emotional space and verbally cleaning out; done in brokenness … so that, very unexpectedly, yet so much of the way God is: a fresh new married life came into creation for us.  I can honestly say we never were the way we are today. There really is something to the promises of God spoken of in Isaiah 61.

Sometimes I go back to “if only” — if only we had begun this way 39 years and 11 months ago…. If only. But its not about that — its about now and what we do with it. I have learned that I am responsible for what I do and decisions I make. I am responsible for bringing my sin before God and confessing it. And to receive the gift of the Lord that I am forgiven. I am not responsible for the decisions of others, nor their responses and reactions to me (as the saying goes: “what you think about me is none of my business”), nor am I responsible to their journey for their own self-truth.

Realizing this has been so up-lifting, freeing. I can breathe. And I do — I take deep, cleansing breaths and appreciate every day what God has done for me and my husband. He brought us through a wilderness journey that was just short of 40 years and gave us new life.

I am amazed, and grateful to God, for the husband I married — his stability, how he wakes up everyday happy and joyful! I am thankful that he was able, and willing, to go through the wilderness journey with me and come out on the other side, together.

And in my gratitude, I place one golden brick down at my feet at a time, step upon it and ask the questions: is this my truth? Is this who I am? Is this who I want to be? I look around for a good long while, and enjoy the view from this new vantage point. I have found that living in my authenticity, my own self-truth, has brought me peace, love, and joy … and is priceless to me.

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This is about my Lord and Savior and what He has done for me — and what He does for one, we can take comfort in knowing He will do for another. It is He who has restored, renewed me. and so as a testimony to Him — these are my stories…..