Tuesday, February 14, 2017

My Sanctuary

     The woods were her sanctuary. Fallen trees, broken branches, dead leaves. This is where she felt something and someone there finally understood what she carried inside, for it resembled her very being. The ravens flew overhead cawing their disdain of her invasion there, mimicking what she felt for so long others indeed thought of her; you're not one of us, you are unlovable, unworthy, you hold no beauty we care to see. You are not wanted here!!
      You see, she was never one to keep her feelings or opinions to herself. She spoke with honesty, truth and candor. She voiced her concerns often of the wrong doings of others and even finding faults where at times there never should have been. It was those voices that kept echoing in her head, "you know they hate you. you know you're annoying right. you know they really can't stand to be around you. you complain too much. you are a downer. you are ugly, in every sense of the word, body, mind and soul. YOU ARE UNWORTHY TO BE LOVED BY ANYONE!!
      She had reached the pinnacle where in an awakened state, life no longer was bearable. Most around her knew not of the pain she kept throwing in the ravines running through her veins, hoping that with the tears that flowed like rivulets caressing her silken cheeks, it would take with them the scorching guilt and memories that had started to unearth themselves at a high rate of speed with no shoulder to pull over onto to just try to breath.
      The undertaker was here to take her soul and that's just what he continued to do, day and night, one into another, taking her completely under. She sought solitude in means she never thought she'd would have ever stooped too. It only added to the weight being shoveled into her consciousness and even  unconsciousness state. The voices, like a continuous dripping faucet, reminding her of  how unworthy a mother, wife, sister, daughter and friend she really was. It mattered not what those around her threw to try to capture her from the slimy, acrid, sinking pit, she couldn't grasp the words or meaning. She almost craved at times to just touch bottom. At least than, there would be an end.
      She often argued with herself that had she been born "beautiful", the world would have welcomed her opinions. They would have welcomed her honesty, in fact even embraced it.  They would have sat for hours on end listening to her stories mesmerized by her sultry beauty and tone of her lyrical voice. She would have never had to shed a single tear and if she had cried. someone would surely have been there to wipe the droplets from the fringes of her lashes.
     Instead, she lived with umpteen reasons of rejections. She didn't deserve better, she got just what she deserved and than more. Desertion, hatred, names that tore to the very core, assorted abuse, heartache, mental, verbal, and physical pain. Thirty six years of marriage had come down to this.... she was finally ready to walk away.                                                                                                                                                                        But not from it, but from the woman she had become! However, God had another plan.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Unraveling The Knot

     Have you ever dissected the threads on a rope? The multitudes of threads that are intertwined within each others? The twists, the turns, the loops, the coils and curls? The entwining and interlacing, sinuous manner in which they intersect. Than on closer inspection you find areas that are strained, frayed and choked with minuet obstructing knots. Whilst running your sensitive fingers along the silken thread you sense a smidge of uncomfortableness that upon viewing with the eye is virtually unseen. Upon closer inspection you form an analysis of a mere snarl slowing up traffic on the thread freeway. Vessel like arms of fiber reach out from the ligature begging for release.
     Now imagine that "rope"...every distinguishable strand, being a representation of a junction you have intersected at some point in your existence here on earth. From conception in the womb to the dirt shoveled on the coffin. For some the "rope" will be a few simple threads and others, the ones used to hold to the dock, massive ships. The more intersecting, the stronger and thicker the cords. Some "knots" will be petite some considerably substantial. Some inconsequential, some voluminous! Some will be worked out with gentle encouragement others will scar you for life.
     And now the "knots". What is it you envisioned first? For you know there are more than one kind. Did you see the interlacing of string fastening something together? Or a problem that is hard to solve. Did you see a bond of union, a marriage decree? Perhaps it was a protruding lump or one you can see and feel in the muscle and tissues. And than maybe it was the rounded cross grained area of a tree where the branch meets in conjunction with the trunk or the woody tissue that caused a discoloration. Perhaps it is that of an ornamental bow to keep things from slipping. And lest we not let sail from view the nautical mile.
     Yet any of these left to its own does not a strand stand a chance. When you peel a rope or string from itself down to the single thread this is what you will come to comprehend, left denude from those surrounding, it lay infracted, limp, withered and shredded. It has lost it's proper course, upright, virtuous shape, no longer bold and left without strength. When you try to stand alone, solo and as one, the slightest breeze, the brush of feather, the drop of a pins vibrating ping upon the floor that causes the trifling tremble, will constitute the thread to fall. Why? Because there is no demanding or protecting foundation that surrounds you from the other elements that may befall you, most meant to bring you down or watch you fail. Whence the verse; "Where two or more are gathered..." the saying; "there is strength in numbers".
     So what and whom are these surrounding strands? For one, look around you! When you need protecting, when you need help healing, when you feel discouraged or heartbroken, physically incapable or just in need of a hug, who comes to mind? When you need reprieve, shelter from the storm, a place to make memories with family and friends, gathering to sing praise and give thanksgiving, where do you find yourself drawn to? They need not only be humans for animals too fill our souls and strengthen us by making us feel whole.  And even the nature that encircles you with it's views and sounds. Those are your surrounding strands, those are the threads that make you strong and bold. Those are the silken wraps that protect the very core of you.
     For today, do me a favor, make a list of those unique, distinctive, intimate, respective entities and than buy a spool of satiny, silky, colorful thread, soft, soothing yarn or cottony, coarse, solid string. Cut a strand, you can tie in a bow, lay out straight or tie around a letter. Distribute them to the recipient either in person or sent in a card, tied to their collar or wrapped around a tree branch. Laid out in the open to help feather a nest, or put on someone's desk. Lovingly placed upon a pillow, or delicately woven into someone's long hair. Tied to a stake for a flower to climb, wrapped around loosely a loving ones finger, or even amongst the cool, unread pages of a book that you love. Explain to them the significance and ask them to do the same. Soon this world will be seen in bows and ribbons and will help softened the harshness of this world. But more importantly, it will help us all stand together, strengthened in love and compassion.
     (If you feel inclined, let me know how you thanked the strands that surround you for in turn you have given me hope that this strand of golden thread will help spread healing and thankfulness and strengthen me also to continue my reach out to others)

Monday, February 9, 2015

This Moment Called Now

       A moment; a brief period of time... but yet some can last for a life time. The definition doesn't really fit the real meaning does it? Some you want to last for ever and other's you can't wait till they end. Moment makes a sound, it's the tick than the tock of sometimes an imaginary clock. Yet like that tic and tock, you can not get it back, real time cannot be reset and first moment feelings can never be re-felt. That's why we are told to, "Live in the moment"!! Say what needs to be said, do what needs to be done, write what needs to be shared, for like a blink of an eye, it's there than it's gone. This is where regret is born, from chances we didn't take.

      New life comes in a moment in time and death in an instant. Moments have gone on to change history, and the moments will last into eternity. Words spoken in hurtful anger, vows reached, the cry of a newborn infant, the scream of grief, the look of love in a glance, the brush of a strangers hand. The kiss from a child so gentle on your cheek, the slap of anger struck to the face, the words, I love you, forever, and until we meet. Life is lived in these. Some will go on to last a lifetime, some will end in defeat. Some will leave you sprinkled with joy others drowning in sadness.

      But the truly good thing about memories is, like magical fairies, they can be captured. Not always to be kept in jars, memories can be captured in photos, on tape, in writing or where I prefer, in the heart. The heart is the most special because it's always with you and you can take it with you when you go from this unsure earth into your future life in eternity. Will we remember them there, when we see our loved ones gone before us? Will we be able to see into our selves like a veil where they lay hidden there? Or will they be stored into boxes like treasures, where they have value like nuggets of gold? I know not yet for it's not my time to go.

      So now do you see what's so important about moments? Do you see the importance of never missing a beat? Do you understand what it takes to make them and never mind the way they may not be complete. For NOW is that moment, for there may never come another! NOW is your chance to never have to suffer regret! NOW is that tomorrow that you may never get the chance to meet!! Go create them, make them special and very unique. Your children will thank you, your parents look forward to and for your spouse or lover will make them feel complete. And you... oh yes you!! The heights they will take you, the healing it will reap, you will feel like you can go on forever and never ever accept defeat.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Falling Leaves

     This morning as I drank my delicious cup of Pumpkin Marshmallow Latte on our comfortable deck under the newly built pergola, I was simply letting God speak to me of the wonders of His creations. The rustle of clumps of falling leaves and chirping birds was all that surrounded us, myself, Copper, my Bassett Hound and Kali, our Boston Terror (because she's such a little monster), my most loving companions. Acorns clicked and cloncked on their way down amongst the intertwined branches, taking with them weakened, color turned leaves. God, in His majestic, yet soft and soothing voice spoke, "You know, I created humans to be much like leaves. In the Spring of life, birth of an infant, you are like the emerging buds of a leaf, a little fragile at first on such a thin stem. It gains it's strength from the nurturance of the limbs and branches and the sap that runs through the trees. Grandparents, Parents and siblings, close family members and friends are the limbs and branches, past family members the roots and blood, the sap."
     I stopped rocking to observe the beauty and significance of that wondrous, magnificent Oak tree that stands multiple feet from the deck and shake my head in agreeing action. Than my God continued. "Those leaves grow to be many with just the blooming of a few, with new ones continuously sprouting forth. The brightness and warmth of the sun, like the love from our family and friends, help them to grow stronger and surround them when the wickedness of storms strike, like the Summer of life. But they withstand the high winds, and pounding rains and scorching sun, when they work together to support one another. They sway to and fro with the rhythm of the breeze. Than Fall comes upon them and this is when they show their true colors. Some so bright in their reds and oranges, some in yellow standing out like a glow and than the others in maroon, rust and browns."
     "Even though they are of many colors,  I love them all the same, for they came from my hand thought of in my heart. They all served a purpose and did their part. But as they take the catwalk for their final state of fashion, some are ooo'ed, wowed, and aahh'ed at, while others are not given a second glance. All in the end carpet the green grass below to protect it from the coming Winter's snow. It mattered not their color when hidden by the snow. Beauty is no more special than the power that protection of any color holds."
     You see my beloveds, we are now in that time of approaching Winter. We must not allow the "color" of the outside to take our views away from that of what we and others hold on the inside. We are all blessed to carry out the work God has set before us. Sometimes it's to stand out and sometimes it's to play a small but very insignificant role. We are all protectors of other's in the end. We help to surround and bring upon unconditional love to those "newly" born into our families. What we say, how we act and what we allow becomes a model for those placed within our family from our mighty God. We all play a part, but not all will set forth what you have been given to be told.
     You are setting an example for those who follow, and God will hold you to that when it's your time to answer to His call. A maple is there for a great show, an elm is only living for itself. A cherry is a sweet smell to other's. A cottonwood sheds it's problems unto other's and a birch stands out amongst the crowds. A willow continues to weep of all it's troubles, and a palm leans to help other's. But an oak... the mighty, mighty oak, stands tall, strong and steady and provides shelter from the most catastrophic storms. What tree in life will you be??? Continue on beautiful falling leaves....

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Living Your Vision

     Encouragement and discouragement derive from Cor, Latin (and French) for "heart," the same root as the word courage. Encourage means, "to inspire with hope, courage, or confidence; to give support to. Discourage means, "to deprive of confidence, hope, or spirit."
     The encouragers in our lives are those who have helped us take heart an find courage to become the people GOD intends us to be. The discouragers are the ones who disapproved of any dreams or desires we had to follow our hearts rather than our heads, (our theirs) in choosing our life's pursuit.
     God gives us encouraging voices throughout our life, and often times we just needed to learn HOW to hear them. A small list of those who inspired or encouraged me to believe in myself as an artist for one was my paternal grandmother Florance LaMarche, Meme. She would show me how to use mostly natures items to make beautiful things. One in particular was making Hollyhock dolls. Than there were the dandylion chain bracelets, seashell paper weights. From household and craft materials we would make yarn dolls, and bologna "colorform" shapes on the refrigerator, catalog trees. And oh the wonders we would create with fabric! She also had a button tin that were worth more than any jewels to me. I would count, separate, and admire them for hours on end. Her best and most creative masterpieces were what came from the kitchen stovetop and oven! But the most creative part of meme was her spoken language; a little bit of English, more of the French and than just a bit more of something else. Zinc for sink, fark for fart, and her favorite saying, "make any difference to me." Her laugh shook everyone around her, even if you weren't part of the discussion going on. Watching comedies with her were made even funnier because she would get the joke and laugh to the point of wetting herself a good 15 minutes after the joke was told.
     Whatever I created she loved and praised me over and over for, telling me, "C'est tres beau." Than she would take my face into her hands and kiss me right on the lips, where I could feel those little spikey mustache and chin hairs poking me. I LOVED her kisses, and she always ended them with a reverberating, "mawmp!

Meme at age 16



     Another very encouraging woman who was very influential in uncovering and giving authentic reflective feedback and teaching me my artistic endeavors was Mrs. Ranger. She was a widow from our church that we attended when I was 12 years of age. My parents volunteered much of their time helping her with household repairs and cleaning she was unable to do for herself, for she was in her 70's. A very talented artist, in drawing, oil and watercolor painting. Beautifully soft spoken and sharp looking. She taught me how to hold my paint brushes, shade in charcoal, make prize winning pictures in  colored chalk, which became my favorite medium to work in. It was her works of art that set me on fire to become an artist. Not as a famous painter or even in selling works of art like herself. Just for the love of it. I also loved, loved, loved, writing. Set impression in my mind was to be an illustrationist. I loved the works of Hans Christian Andersen and would imagine the pictures he painted in words, and I would put them down on paper what the characters looked like in my storybook minds vision. It's one thing to word our a vision and an entirely different world in giving them visual character. That was the path I would pursue, so sure I could live happily in a small cottage by the sea, with one small hurricane lamp on a tidy desk filled with colored pencils, colored chalks of course, paint brushes and a small pallet of water paints and lots and lots of graphite pencils and soft spongy erasers and a never ending supply of paper. In this small cottage I would have a comfortable, fall full into the luscious linens and blankets bed, that gave me a dreamy sleep where God would bring to light my next days endeavors. It would be heated with a small wood stove, fired by the drifts of wood shards I gathered on my mornings walk upon the deserted beach, with my pet companion falling in line with my bare feet sinking into the wave tumbled sand, leaving my prints for whom ever wanted to follow.  Albeit the world was sure to get in the way. How will you eat? How will you pay for utilities? How will you survive? Well, you see, I was going to be an artist, and, well... 

Meme as I will always remember her
     Which brings me to my next encourager, my middle school home economics teacher, Mrs. Hartz. She instilled in me, basic sewing, child development, comprehensive homemaking, home and family living skills. More than that, she became my friend, confidant and although she didn't know, mentor. So now this is what I strived to become, a Home Maker. Wasn't quite sure about the wifely duties but being a mother? Oh bring on the babies!! Now my life set off in a whole new direction with the artistic "wanna be" tucked into my back pocket.
     Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. This verse implies that God has a plan for our lives, one that we would do well to seek rather than relying on our own preferenced shaking plans. I really didn't believe that God had an interest in my personal life or the development of it. I thought He just sat by silently observing and when I "thought" I had messed up, I was taught to go into "the tiny closet where there sat a man, like the Wizard of Oz, and tell him your wrongs and he will penitence you with prayers to say and all will be forgiven." Oh, well that's pretty simple, mess up, pray, mess up, pray.... I did not learn what it meant to have an intimate and personal relationship with this God I'd heard of, until I was in my early thirties. What I learned was that God is our greatest encourager. If and WHEN we firmly place our hand in His, we can relearn that childlike trust we need to develop a vision of who He wants us to be. But an important initial step in coming along side and giving yourself to His service is to forgive ourselves and more importantly others.
     If we truly want to regain our dreams and start to give birth to the process of them, we must first let go of the past. Forgiveness is not just something we give to another person, It is a gift we give to ourselves, freeing ourselves from the bad feelings about whatever that person did. But in order to understand forgiveness and to truly feel forgiveness, we should recognize that forgiveness is NOT the same as telling that other person that what they did or did not do, or what you needed done or said, is "okay". It was NOT okay; it was REAL, it was NEGATIVE, and because of these things and actions, kept you from having the confidence you needed to pursue your dreams or think better of yourself. Whatever their motives or lack of believing, if they even had one, was damaging and wrong. It's not saying you need to immediately forgive them or even admitting that maybe you have been too hard on them all these years. What it is, is your willingness to truly let go of all the negative feelings you have because of what YOU FEEL that person did that hurt you.
     The discouragers may or may not have even known that their words or actions caused us to give up on our goals, but regardless, the truth of their discouragement was the same. It left us lacking in ourselves, the courage or belief in following our dreams. It eroded us by discouraging messages coming form most often the people who knew and were suppose to love us the most. We also need to understand that forgiveness is not the same thing as allowing ourselves to be victims of another's words or offense done to us.

     But in the end, those words only have as much power as we give or gave them. Why should we harbor resentment or anger against someone who discouraged us when we have a Heavenly Father who has given us these gifts, and abilities. He gives them to us for a reason, and we are to find that reason and not let it go to the wayside. He knows us by name, and all the needs we have, the dreams we have, the hurts we have. Stop letting the "discouragers" take up room in your heart, soul and mind. Focus on God and instead give room to the encouragers, they really are all around you if you look for the sunshine through the rain.   
 
 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Brokenness

     Broken; the word alone conjures up negative images: broken bones, china, toys, and the most painful one, heart. In God's mind though, brokenness is seen as a good thing. And for His works it is essential. For he uses only people whose hearts, human spirits and pride HAVE been broken. Brokenness is like that teacher that gives or gave you lots of homework, pop quizzes and very hard tests. While studying you  curse the teacher for all the preparation time it takes away from your "free" time. Your brain goes into "overload" and your hand cramps like talons of an eagle who clamps on to his prey. But by God, when that pop quiz is sprung on you, you know the answer and pass. And that in turn prepares you for the ultimate test. And when you are put to it, you slow your pace and breathing and with assuredness, start checking the boxes and filling in the spaces. 
     When you have been broken, you are forced to sit in quietness to reflect on the lesson it has taught you and it is during that time that the splint is attached to keep the "break" straight to heal correctly, the glue to dry the pieces firmly together, the wound to heal cleanly and without too much scarring. When in these stages, "support" is needed. A splint needs a cast, a dish needs two hands to hold it till the glue has time to harden, a wound needs to be cleaned out and held closed with stitches, staples or surgical tape until it becomes healed enough to not split wide open allowing infection to enter.
     For broken hearts and spirits, God sends His healing through others who receive the urging from the Holy Spirit. We are placed here on earth to help carry one another's load. That concept has been sadly pushed aside by far too many these days. The world's instructor, Satan, loves it when others choose to turn their head, to make them so busy with their life and goals they chase after, that they trample over the wounded leaving them hurting and bleeding. Another tool is to feign interest while leaving their thoughts to wander about... "what should I serve for dinner, I sure hope that package gets delivered today", or inwardly pick apart the imperfections of the person who stands before them. They really have no real desire to listen or to help them by just merely holding their hand, giving them a much needed hug. It's just half hearted sayings or something they throw out pretending to seem sincere to, "rack up points in Heaven", to look good in front of others for their ego's sake, to add to their "resume".
     When the wounded lay bleeding, they NEED "someone" to apply pressure to stop the bleeding, a hand to hold and squeeze while experiencing the excruciating pain. An ear to hear their plea, another's lips to pray. The worse thing a body of believers could do is to offer false hope and walk away and leave the wounded stranded. In every single one of us, upon birth, God has given to us the ability to help others. Otherwise God would have created us with only one of everything, one hand, one leg, one ear. His idea was one for us, one for another. His Son however used both feet and both hands to let them nail Him to the cross. He allowed himself to be broken, both heart and spirit, to feel our pain, hurts and disgust from our sins.
     We are called to love one another, not to ignore the pains of others. We all will experience brokenness at some point in our lives. Death of a loved one, a body shaken with illness, a depilating injury, a divorce, rejection from family or a friend. God "offers" a choice of brokenness and those who are willing to cast themselves on Jesus in thanksgiving for His death on the cross, by submitting their wills and all that they are to Him, will be broken by Him of any arrogance, hard-heartedness, and self centeredness.
     This will not and has never been to anyone taking this "offer", a pleasant process. However it is an absolutely necessary one. And here is a warning to those who do not submit to Him, he will ultimately "fall on them". When things fall upon something or someone, the force of  it can only be described as "crushing". The choice is ultimately yours... broken before Him, or crushed by Him.

Monday, April 21, 2014

You Teach People How To Treat You

     It is sometimes difficult to pin down the source of intimidation. I had a VERY critical spirit about myself, comparing my looks, intelligence, talents... life in general with others and found myself wanting in many areas of my life. In a sense I was an "internal intimidator", with an ever changing cape, with a huge 'I' symbol in bold red, and outfit get up that was ripped and torn in so many places. I set about trying to "save" others while being totally out of control and causing much damage to my own self. I only felt strong when I donned "the cape"!!

     Truth is, I set about seeking my own path the moment I learned to crawl. And ever since that moment, I set out with my own set of goals, making my own plans, referring to the "blueprint" I designed instead of the "boldprint" of God's design. I overlooked the very thing that could set me on a path toward spiritual fulfillment. I was "sheepish" when it came to seeking, hearing and acting on God's vision for my life. (Baaaaa d pun I know). The careers I tried to follow, friendships made, family units, schools I attended, churches I tried to make my "home", obligations I felt I needed to make, life in general took center stage. I set instead down the path of making a living as a "wholesome" wife and mother, creating a "house" but not a home, a family that looked good from the porch steps and outward, but suffered greatly behind the closed, cold steel, brightly colored door.

     Shoved aside was the God created me. I instead buried my wants, dreams and talents in the back of my heart and minds closet. Perhaps I had heard too many "discouraging words", perhaps I thought others "knew" me more than I knew myself. Old "injuries" and debris being dumped and pressed tightly like a garbage truck on pick up day. Than anger started to make itself extremely comfortable in my "inner house", which set off a powder keg of emotions; discouragement, fear, resentment, fury, rage, irritation, being offended easily.

     The "new and unimproved" me set about fueled by flare ups, fumed over the littlest change, rolled eyes or smirk. I fretted like a hypochondriacs parrot, repeating the same ole hurt or offense I could react to. At times I would storm about breathing fire on anyone willing to "fan the flame". My blood boiled and hissed like a pressure cooker and took it's time cooling down but never falling to the completely cold inner core that was forming deep down inside. Even the outer me took on one of  an orey-eyed monster, red faced, flaming tongue, wildly fisting anyone who came near.
*taken from my journal 2 years ago: Wounds have left a hole in my heart. Some of the wounds are old and they make me angry. Some of the wounds are fresh and I'm hurt. Part of me is broken, and the other part is bitter. Part of me wants to cry, and part of me wants to fight. The tears I cry are hot because they are coming from my heart, and there a fire lies burning. It is the fire of anger! It's blazing! It's consuming! The flames leap sometimes steaming up a pot of revenge!
     I must make a decision: "Do I put the fire out or heat it up more? Do I get over it or should I get even? Do I release it or do I resent it? Do I let my hurts heal, or do I let my hurts turn into hate?" But does it or has it ever done any good? Has the resentment ever brought me any relief or peace? Does it or will it grant me any joy?
     I think... No, I know, it's time to allow the hole in my heart to heal.

     So for today, let me leave you with this, forth which the Holy Spirit guided; "Serving people for the sake of their gratitude is a guaranteed formula for disappointment. Someone will expect too much from you and accuse you of letting them down. The focus must not be on serving others or on being served. The focus must be on Jesus. We do not serve men; we serve God. Have no expectations of men. Look to Christ alone for gratitude. he will reward you for serving other; In fact, He is the reward. So ask yourself often, "are you serving others for the praise you will receive, or for the pure pleasure of serving Christ?"