Let Your Spirit Shine

My husband asked, “Why now?”

I don’t have an answer for him. Maybe because they’re all dead or closer to death than they’ve ever been–all the people I thought should’ve protected me back then. Maybe because I’ve lived long enough to understand grace and forgiveness? I don’t know why all of this gunk from my past is bubbling up now. Maybe because writing didn’t help, it only suppressed and allowed survival and maybe painting allows me to fully live? Maybe because clearing the dysfunctional relationships from my life has allowed me to stop being dysfunctional myself and has cleared the way for real healing?

All of that? None of it. I don’t know.

I’m reading a couple of books on healing. I’m about halfway through both. I’m taking it slow on purpose.

Burning my journals was a huge step for me.

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But then I took it a step further.

I took part in my own private Ash Wednesday ceremony on a different day of the week. This same day I had this overwhelming realization. I don’t think God care which day I did this or who put the ashes on my forehead or even that the ashes weren’t from the palm fronds of the previous year.

They were the ashes from years of misery and suffering.

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I put them on my forehead and prayed for the redemption of those years.

I sprinkled them on my painting. Rubbed them in. Moved them with my fingers and my brush so they’d become part of a new creation. A beautiful creation born of suffering.

The Spirit of the Lord God is on Me,
because the Lord has anointed Me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives
and freedom to the prisoners;
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,
and the day of our God’s vengeance;
to comfort all who mourn,
to provide for those who mourn in Zion;
to give them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,
festive oil instead of mourning,
and splendid clothes instead of despair.
And they will be called righteous trees,
planted by the Lord
to glorify Him.

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Beauty instead of ashes.

It’s the cry of my spirit.

Nailed.

Five Minute Friday.

Writing Prompt:  Remember

Start the timer…now…

Remember sneaking out of my bedroom window. Chilly air. Black hoodie. Meeting my bff and walking around the block again and again talking and giggling.

Sneaking out, thinking I was getting away with something. Climbing out so quietly. Climbing back in without a sound. How many nights did we do this?

Never did we do anything more than walk around the neighborhood. We could’ve talked anytime during the day and could’ve sat on the phone for hours, but yet, we both liked the excitement of sneaking out. The adrenaline rush. It starts early.

And then one night, I pushed the screen out and it didn’t give. It was locked in place somehow. In the morning I rushed out to see what made it stick.

A nail.

A nail for my sin and deceit.

My father had nailed that window shut

And now, hasn’t my heavenly Father also come to the cross, with nails…

(and time’s up.)

(whew. I did NOT expect that.)

 

and I had to go searching for a photo that would go with that…

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He Writes

My eleven year old son who breaks my heart daily telling me he hates reading (who can hate reading???) —my son who breaks my heart when he tells me he doesn’t want to write a short story

was forced today to start a short story.

Yes. I forced him.

And I read these two passages and my heart swelled (like almost out of my chest.)

My name is Jack S. Walton.  I was in the U.S. Navy. Someone called professor Johnson asked me to do some underwater research. Who was I to deny?

and this

When I came aboard he greeted me and said, “Hello Jack. Our destination is the gulf of Mexico or somewhere near it.”

My heart swelled and tears welled up in my eyes because he can tell me he hates writing–but the kid has got voice down and I didn’t teach him voice.

and that makes my soul sing.

(Parentheses)

I went to a writing conference and my mom needed medical treatment.
Once home, I found out my mom has a brain tumor.
My mom has lymphoma.
I’ve been with her nearly every day.
My mom seems to like to sleep when I’m with her. And that’s ok. She needs to rest and heal.
(I’ve been writing.)
The hospital has been my office. My husband has become the homeschool mom and housewife. And I take my lunch and my laptop to the not-so-comfortable chair next to my mom and I turn on Pandora and she sleeps (and I write.)
Good days. Bad days. But the worst days have not been caused by tumors or lymphomas, but by careless humans.
(on those days, I cannot write.)
But on the days, which are most days, that mom wants a cool washcloth on her eyes and wants to nap while I’m with her (those days, I write.)
And in the (parentheses) of one planned writing conference to a surprise second one, I have finished one proposal of my own and one with a very good friend. This surprise second conference includes a meeting with a publisher who is interested in both proposals.
And today is June 1. Jill’s birthday. Last year, we moved into our new home and new life on this day. This year I’m praying for my mom to recover. I’m also praying for what’s been happening in the (parentheses) of my life.
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Now What?

It was very hard for me to hit “publish” on this one.

* * *

In October of 1999, Zane was born. Phil was driving our semi over the road and he was home one day out of every thirty. That year, Jill and I spent New Year’s Eve together afraid for Y2K. We survived.

In 2000, we filed bankruptcy on that semi and moved back to Indiana and lived with my parents for a short time. Phil found a driving in job in Chicago and he was home two days out of every seven.

In 2001, 9/11 happened and I was scared for our lives. I’d never, ever heard it so quiet outside as when all planes were grounded. That month, we found a duplex to rent, Zane turned 2, potty-trained and I was still trying to decide if I was a good mom or not.

In 2002…Phil got a local job hauling fuel and was home EVERY night.

In 2003, Phil and I bought the Knox house. I started attending a church for the first time since I was let down by a different church back in 1992.

In 2004, doctors thought Phil had cancer. He didn’t. He did, however, punch a wall and break his hand and have to have pins put in.

In 2005, I was reading my Bible daily, active in Women’s ministry (and Phil in men’s ministry) and I was really getting to know God. Jill told me she had breast cancer and had already been battling it for a year. She’d already had a mastectomy and chemo and radiation. She made me get a breast exam. And I think they thought I had cancer. I then had an ultra sound. Then a mammogram (and platypus poop.) Then I had to see a surgeon. He told me I didn’t have breast cancer.

In 2006, I was called to write. “Write.” (I noticed I posted that on 12/02/06. Wonder if that has anything to do with 12:26?) That year, I also lost my Uncle Ed. I’m not sure there’s ever been a time when I felt as close to God. And that’s also the year my church gave me a wake up call–lying about me, accusing me of ridiculous things, and leaving me alone during a time of huge, monumental need. Phil thought he was having a heart attack. Our fridge broke. Phil lost his job. Phil had double hernia surgery. We almost lost our house. 2006 was probably the hardest year of my life. I felt so alone that year. And God taught me more about His love than I could’ve ever expected.

In 2007, my thyroid completely shut down and I’ve been trying to get my brain (and my body and my life) back ever since. It’s also the year I was asked to be on the editing team at The Midnight Diner.

In 2008, I lost my best friend, Jill in January. She might have survived Y2K, but she did not survive breast cancer. And then my grandma passed away in September. I was asked to be Editor-in-chief of The Midnight Diner.

In 2009, We were taken on a trip of a lifetime to Key West and Marco Island, Florida in March. Phil quit truck driving altogether! He started working as property manager for a local retreat center. We were blessed with a grandson in April. Around May, I finally started feeling like myself again with the help of some replacement thyroid hormone. We moved in June and I’ve been trying to figure out what life is now that Phil’s home all day, every day and now that everything has changed.

* * *

I started this post with the intention of talking about how I feel separated from God right now. I mean, I know He’s there, He just feels distant to me and I remember hearing people talk about feeling this way and I distinctly remember thinking, “I will NEVER feel that way. I will always feel as close to God as I do at this very moment.”

I was going to talk about this new Bible I got, The Books of the Bible–with no verse references–and how I was going to start reading that for the New Year.

But I got caught up in looking at the way things got so ugly during the time I was closest to God. I remember what I went through and the lessons I learned after I did Beth Moore’s Believing God study. Things I haven’t found the courage to write about.

And though God says, “Do not be afraid.”

I am afraid.

I’m afraid that if I get close to Him again, something worse will happen. And I don’t know how to let go of that fear.

I know I’m the one keeping the distance from God.

I said it.

Now what?

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