LETTING GO: an exercise in faith, a gift of grace


Nobody, and I mean nobody, likes change, that is, the change that interrupts our lives and makes the world we know uncomfortably different. I’m tired of the old cliché that states change is good, necessary, and a catalyst for growth. *foot stomping* I don’t like change!

But I don’t want to be stagnant either. And because I am a believer, I live by the assertion that I must change to live up to the potential assigned to me by God. What? Am I so full of myself that I actually think the almighty God of heaven and earth knows me personally and even takes the time to direct my path if I ask Him to? Yes. Period. Therefore, I must accept change as it comes and then discern how I choose to react to it. I must exercise my faith to allow whatever change is at hand to make me a better person, one more worthy to live up to God’s expectations of me. In the meantime, I don’t want to miss any of the graces He wishes to bestow upon me as a direct result of my decision to accept the direction of His hand over the changes of my life. And in the bigger picture, the change that effects me will have an affect on those around me. It’s a domino effect, you see. The changes in other’s lives influence me, the change in my life influences others.

Simple truths, right? Yeah, it’s easy as long as it is happening to someone else. “Therein lies the rub.” In case you didn’t hear me the first time, I don’t like change. But change is a lesson we all have to learn and grow from, hopefully. It’s a lesson that creeps up on us every day and demands we pay attention. It is stubbornly present and won’t let go, much like a dog and his favorite bone.

We liken change to either good or bad and, face it, the bad changes are the ones that really get our attention. Unfortunately, the good changes are the ones we accept, perhaps joyfully, but more often than not, without a second thought that they may, in fact, be blessings and graces sent from you-know-Who. Both good and bad are golden depending on our reaction to them. Uh huh. It’s true. Let me illustrate why I feel this way.

I haven’t blogged much since I had a brain tumor removed in August 2015. Even though it was a simple (! Did I just say that??), nearly painless surgery, it has not been without it’s effects and that has taken some adjustment to get used to. For example, I have written the previous sentence three times. Moving on… My memory is affected. I don’t remember a lot of the more recent past, things I have done, places I’ve gone, most notably, people I’ve met. Not too many weeks ago I was in a grocery store and a couple passed by me. They greeted me by name as if they knew me well. I had no idea who they were. I nodded to them, smiled, and proceeded on out the door. But it bothered me a so much that I didn’t recognize them that I had to go back into the store and find them. That lovely couple was gracious enough to understand my explanation that I had no idea who they were. I apologized to them and told them about the effects of my surgery. I felt like a fool. But they were kind and actually seemed happy to fill in the missing blanks. What a relief!

All of that just to say this: I’ve been through a lot of changes lately. Trust me. And I suppose there will be more to come. God, please grant me the grace to go through them the way You would have me to.

So, some of these changes I’ve been through recently have been pretty hard. They get the most attention, of course. The biggest and hardest change has been the death of our former daughter-in-law. Erica was not without her issues. If you are a human being, you too have issues. But Erica’s issues were a bit out of the ordinary. The first time I met her (she answered the door at my son’s house and promptly closed it in my face) I thought she was incredibly rude. Little did I know she was afraid of what my reaction to her being in my son’s house would be. Poor thing. I often wonder what on earth my son told her about me to cause that fear! No matter. I learned to love her. In fact, the day she married my son I fell in love with the brilliant loving smile she gave my son after they were pronounced husband and wife. Aside from that, she bore my first grandchild. When he was born I felt a love like I had never felt before in my life. She was responsible for that. Had it not been for her, who knows if I ever would have discovered what unconditional love was all about? Erica and my son divorced after their difficult marriage refused to survive. They were forced to continue their contact with each other in order to raise their son. And by the way, that boy is awesome which speaks to the success of their efforts. Even so, they went their separate ways. Not too many years passed before Erica became seriously ill. The choices she made hindered any healing that we all prayed for. Over time she lost function of her kidneys and liver and had to go on dialysis. Eventually, her circumstances dictated she live in a nursing home until she could get on her feet. The rehab was good, she was successful and was ready to be discharged to home. The last time I saw her at the nursing home she was so happy and full of life and ready for a new beginning! We rejoiced and she ascertained that her healing was certainly due to Divine Intervention. Then she had an accident and smacked her head on the concrete. It was the last assault her body could tolerate. Within two weeks she was gone. She died at the age of thirty seven just when she was getting her life in order. Now, I’ll be the first to tell you that our God has a purpose and a plan for everyone. But I had a hard time accepting it, even now, a hard time believing it. My head says no way. My heart says it has to be. That, my friend, is the definition of faith; believing in what you cannot see, like it or not.

As it would happen, on the day before Erica’s wake, my grandson and I went out to lunch. He is very nearly fourteen years old now and such a man already. I had heard from one of my former neighbors that my old house, the one I poured blood, sweat, and tears into, was being demolished. This I had to see for myself. So on the way back from lunch, the boy and I drove past my old address. The neighbor was telling the truth. There wasn’t a house standing, there was instead rubble strewn about, piles of bricks, pipes reaching out of the ground as if looking to connect to something, anything. Lumber, solid, hard heart-pine and oak, was stacked along the perimeter of the old house’s stead. Ghost-like, lonely. There was a man sitting on a pillar of bricks and one standing close by, obviously the workers employed to take the house apart. He approached me as I pulled up and greeted me like a long lost friend. He didn’t know me but somehow he recognized the attachment I had to this place, this ground on which a lifetime was lived and children were raised. He let me tell him how I loved this place when I lived there, how I raised two boys there, how I remodeled the kitchen and built that deck laying in pieces over in the far corner. He smiled knowingly as I told him that was MY home, the one I bought and paid for myself. As if to comfort me, that darling man proudly assured me that he had already removed the kitchen cabinets and, in fact, had recycled them into another project he was working on. And the doors. And the beautiful parquet floor that I put down piece by piece on the floor. (My knees have not been the same since!) His eyes lit up and he told me he figured I was the one who stained the glass on the back door and bathroom windows. Yes! It was me! He proudly led me around the back of the property to show me he saved them somehow knowing a person would come around asking about them. Yes, me again.

For the next few days after Erica’s funeral, I mulled over these big changes set before me. Big big changes. You know, I came to understand something. I spent more time living and loving, and trying to live life in that old house than I have anywhere since, at least so far. I learned about myself and others. Life lessons. Heartache. Joy. Self-discovery. I had hard lessons about growing up. Sacrifice. Selfishness. Forgiveness. From 1987 to 2001 I lived there. I sold it in I think 2002 or 2003. I poured heart and soul into that old house. I gardened to my heart’s content, coaxing flowers from the earth, fashioning sidewalks and secret flowerbeds. I labored and was constantly surprised at the results. Working on that old house gave me the confidence I lacked previously to accomplish many things, personally and professionally. I think there was not one inch of that house and the ground beneath it that I didn’t touch. My identity was tied up in that house for a time but I wasn’t sorry to let it go. It was, after all, just a building. I was grateful to have had it. It sheltered us and gave us a sense of security. It had a foundation when I didn’t. Then the boys left home and I got married and moved away. Change happened.

I can in no way compare loosing Erica to the tearing down of my old house. That would be ridiculous. I can share my reaction to the changes. Loosing Erica hurts. Her presence leaves a hole in the life of her precious son and all who love her. The demolition of the old house merely evokes sentimental musings. Both soul and building are now memories, albeit one more poignant than the other. One leaves behind a legacy, a life, and now love eternal. The other, just memories.

I am a better person for having loved both. They represent different planes in the plan of life. I have learned lessons from each; patience, perseverance, love, frustration, epic failure, joy, happiness, satisfaction, hope, forgiveness. Yes, big changes indeed.

Eternal Father, You Who loves us in ways we can’t imagine, thank you for the gifts You have given. Thank You that Your daughter Erica touched my life, gave me my first grandchild, and taught me lessons no other could. Thank You for that old house and the lessons I learned there; the strength and stamina I needed. Please let me keep these blessings in my heart always and never be afraid to think of them and grow from them. Father, I’m asking that my faith be strengthened to accept Your will and not question it. Thank You again, my Lord, that You love us.

Amen

 

Please don’t forget to pray for peace.


Obviously it has been a looong time since I last posted.  I guess getting over brain surgery took a bit longer than I anticipated.  It wasn’t painful, believe it or not.  In fact, it was the least painful surgery I have ever had, and I’ve had a bunch.  I’ve been known to say I don’t have many working parts left, but I was joking.  I’m not joking about not having much pain.  Who knew that a person could have 1/3 of her head shaved, an incision from middle forehead to ear, skull removed, brain pushed to the side, tumor excised, plate attached with titanium screws, scalp stapled together with what felt like a million staples, and it wasn’t that painful?   The physical part wasn’t as bad as I imagined it would be.  Oh sure it was hard moving my head for a little while.  I felt like I had a pumpkin on my shoulders.  I couldn’t sleep.  I was uncomfortable, but no, I thought it would be excruciating.  And it wasn’t.  The hard part was waking up knowing that I didn’t not see Jesus or my mama.  I secretly  thought I would and was so disappointed that I didn’t.  Bitterly disappointed.  Once the healing began, I pretty much got over it.  By the way, the tumor was benign, no further treatment is necessary, just yearly check ups for five years.  Honestly, the whole thing was a bit scary.  Apparently I was rather hypovolemic as I woke up with more IVs than I had ever had at one time.  I think about five if I remember correctly.  And then there was the little matter of my heart rate.  It dropped, and when I say it dropped, I’m talking low.   One night my male nurse woke me up saying “Miss Nancy, your heart rate is in the 30s and I need to stimulate you”, to which I replied “couldn’t you just shake me instead?”.  Haha, I am so bad!  We laughed and my heart rate went up.  Problem solved.

In truth, I am amazed at how easy the whole thing was.  Getting used to life post surgery is another story.  I cannot explain what is different, only that it is.  I might be a little slower.  The memory process might be an issue.  Maybe I see more color.  That is kind of iffy.  One thing I know for sure is that our Lord God is a good God and His mercies endure forever!  I could go on a lengthy litany of His goodness and only scratch the surface.  How else can I claim healing but for His goodness?

I’m switching the focus to the fun part of the whole situation.  Yes, indeed, there was a fun part!  Let me start by saying how blessed I am with good friends.  Not just good friends, but great friends, the best friends.  Friends who stand by me when the going gets tough.  It was tough for my husband to see me go through this.  But he was held up by angels; my prayer group and several other great friends who traveled 3 1/2 hours and more to be with us.  And surgery was in NEW ORLEANS, people!  New Orleans!  Can I tell you the night before surgery was fun?!  We managed to get in a good tour of the French Market and sampled the cuisine that made New Orleans famous.  Yes, there were beignets.  Lots of beignets.  If you don’t know (egads!), beignets are a puffy, powdered sugar coated pastry known far and wide as THE one thing you should not miss in New Orleans.  And don’t forget the cuppa strong café au lait on the side.  Heaven on earth, I tell ‘ya.  Yes, indeed.  There are so many wonderful things about that fabulous city and I certainly wanted to do/eat/see all of them before I had surgery.  Can you imagine?   Oh forget about Bourbon Street.  Been there, done that, don’t want to go back.   I’m too old.  It’s not fun anymore.  Now that I know Who my God is, I have no desire to dip my toes in that sorry lake of fire!

night before surgery Yes, we had a big meal but I think I was the only one who had beer.  Wouldn’t you?  I am the nut on the far end of the table.  Let me tell you something; this group can laugh!

Progressing on….  I’d say I am healing well.  It has been 8 months.  The neurosurgeon told us that it would take 9 to 12 months to recover completely; to even start feeling like my old self.  I’m not so sure about that but I will trust him even though he did laugh at me when I asked him to be sure to remove some of the bad memories wreaking havoc in my brain, and replace them with a few golden nuggets of wisdom.   He must not have realized that I was serious, lol.  Oddly enough, the good doctor must have done something different because the memories are still there but somehow they aren’t as important anymore.

What is important?  The fact that I woke up when the surgery was done, eyesight intact, moving all extremities, still utilizing brain function (that part is debatable).  And I love.  I love very much.  Besides that, I am acutely aware of what I want to do more of.  I want to become a better person.  I want to praise God with every breath.  I want to open my eyes and look around and light a fire under my butt if that is what it takes to do what God wants me to do.  There are a lot of people in this world who have needs.   Maybe you and I can’t touch every one, but our prayers can.

How about you give that a try?  Pray for our country.  Shoot, pray for our world.  Pray for peace.  Please.  Oh, and love one another!  To love someone is a gift from God.  Don’t waste it.

Feel free to leave a comment.  I would love it if you would!

 

As I recover . . .


I thought I would re-post the following from over a year ago.  I’ve got a new post rolling around in my head but everything is still jumbled up from my recent craniotomy so I shall have to let a bit more time pass before I can put two sentences together in a reasonably cohesive way.  Oh, but when I come back!  Wait for it!

https://nantubre.com/2014/07/25/the-motorcycle-mama-and-the-lord/

enjoy, and please pray for peace in the world.  Don’t forget!

What’s Love Got To Do With It?


SECRETS OF THE OLD LADIES CLUB

Guess what?  I got a phone call from a fan!  eeeeekkk!  I did, from a real fan!  I saw stars, my head started spinning, and my chest kinda puffed out a little bit.  A man who actually read my book (Secrets of the Old Ladies’ Club) called me to say he enjoyed it.  And so did his mother.  I was elated – surprised, but elated.   Actually it was a humbling experience because it has been a while since it was published.  I didn’t purchase a marketing package when I self-published with IUniverse because I put all the funds I could muster up into publishing the book.  That was it.  Tapped out.  But I was happy with that.  My goal was to tell a story that was rolling around in my head bumping on the inside of my skull to get out.  And I was able to accomplish #1 on my bucket list.  For me, it isn’t about the money I coulda, woulda, shoulda made.  Trust me, I would have been happy to make a lot of money, but realistically speaking, I wasn’t going to hold my breath.  I think my first royalty check was for – ummm- $31.   Are you suitably impressed?  Perhaps if I had purchased a marketing package I would have done better.  Who knows and who cares?  All I can tell you is that phone call from the fan made a huge impact on me.  And not for the reasons one might think.  It was because of the impact my book had on this man’s life.  Yeah.  Let’s talk about a humbling experience!

So it went like this:  I had contact from this man some time back.  He heard about Secrets from someone I knew and wanted to read it.  I was more than happy to send him a copy.  When he called me the other night, it was to tell me he loaned it to his mother before reading it himself.  And now that he was nearly finished reading it, felt compelled to tell me what it meant to him.  At this point in the conversation my heart stopped.  What was going on?  He was struggling to control his emotions.  Through the phone line I could hear him choking back the tears that rendered him unable to utter the words his heart wanted me to hear, the very purpose for his phone call.  But he needn’t have worried.  I heard him loud and clear and my heart was moved.  How could it not be?  A forty something grown man going to pieces because of something I wrote?  Unheard of.  Plenty of women have told me they enjoyed the book.  A couple of men told me they enjoyed the book, but hey, they are related to me so they kinda have to say that.  I’ve had a ton of wonderful, great reviews with the exception of two: one said don’t waste your money, another said it must have been written by a 14 year old.  Haha!  I let it roll off my back.  But I digress.  Back to the fan.  When he was finally able to gather himself, he said “I am that gay boy”.   He said I nailed it on the head regarding the ways he identified with my book.  He said he finally found someone who understood what his life was like.  I was floored.  And humbled.  And thrilled.  His reaction was something real, something more than I ever expected.  What did I tell him?  I said that if for no other reason than for him to read my book, I was glad I wrote it.  And glad I fought to save enough money to publish it. For one person to have such a strong reaction is more than I ever dreamed of.  Accomplishing #1 on my bucket list turned into something more.

Let me take this one step further.  I’m going to involve God in the equation.  I can say this for certain that He does know the desires of our hearts and longs to see them fulfilled.  That’s not just for me, but for all.  If the desires of your heart fall within the perimeters of His will for your life, He will stop at nothing to see that your heart is fulfilled.  I know that to be the truth.  Of course, sometimes our desires are outside His will for our lives.  I’ve had that happen before too.  I wanted to be – , I wanted to have – , I wanted to do – .   but you know what?  Growing in relationship with the Lord changes things.  The more you get to know Him, the more you want to know Him.  And then the more the desires of your heart change.  They quietly kinda slip to the back burner until one day you discover that the desires of your heart include, first and foremost, that all you want is to do is His will!  To follow Him closely, snuggle up under His arm, and allow Him to be God to us.  In retrospect, it would seem that the desires of our hearts make a path straight to His heart and His desires for us.  It opens a way for us to learn how to love and grow in love.  That’s His message, isn’t it?  To love always?  That’s the way I see it.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to properly assume what God is thinking these days.  Did you watch the Republican Presidential Debate last night?  Good Lord in heaven!  The topics alone will bring a saint to their knees.  ISIS, abortion, gay marriage, social security, jobs, immigration, building a wall separating the United States and Mexico.  Oh, then there is balancing the budget, Hillary bashing, Obama bashing, bashing each other.  One thing I found interesting is that, when pressed, pretty much every candidate declared a strong belief in God.  I liked Ted Cruz’s answer when asked if, because he’s a Christian, God speaks to him.  He said yes, on a daily basis, God speaks through the Bible.  What a beautiful thing to say!   I seem to recall that later he went on to say that God wants us to love one another.  Well.  How do you like that?  I was waiting for the gay bashing to take place.  Thankfully I was wrong.  I’m so tired of it.  I’m tired of all this hating.  I’m not even remotely related to God so I can’t say what His take is on it, although I have seen all the scriptures concerning the “abomination”.   I’m tired of people looking at gays and lesbians as if they have two heads and three eyes.  What’s the matter, don’t people understand God loves them as well?  We are all His people, His love!   Why get all freaked out and homophobic?  (disclaimer: I am married to a homophobe, yet I still love him with all my heart.)  I say we should all reserve our judgment for worse things, like abortion, war, murder, starving children, etc.  And then, in love, do something about those instead of working to make certain people feel like less than they are.  Amen?

bear

Pray for peace, people!  The world needs your prayers!

Something new is coming! Hint: FLETCHER MCHALE


Every once in a while I hear some good news and get so stinkin’ excited about it I can barely contain myself.  Do you remember my post about Fletcher McHale?  You know, the writer?  She wrote Save Us a Seat.  Remember that?  If for some reason you don’t recall the book and author (egads!) check out this post:  https://nantubre.com/2013/11/04/book-review-save-us-a-seat-by-fletcher-mchale-nablopomo-4/   It’s an awesome book.  Just when you think things couldn’t get better, they do.  Stay tuned!  Good things are coming!

Fletcher McHale

Fletcher McHale

I can not wait!

If you have time, please check out my latest post on my other blog, NanTubreUnlimited.   Click on this link:

https://nantubreunlimited.wordpress.com/

Here’s a preview:  DSCF9597

AT THE END OF THE DAY…


jesus and child

I’m sure somewhere around the country, a beautiful sunset is about to be enjoyed.  While I enjoy evenings, in my part of the country, this evening is the end of a long rainy day.  It’s Easter Sunday.  And Easter Sunday is a day of hope for believers.  I love it, I appreciate it, I need it.  It is a lesson that one never stops learning; put your hope in the Lord.  Believe in the reality of it.  God came to earth in the form of an ordinary man, flesh and blood, with a need for nutrition, shelter, and love.  He sweat, probably had indigestion occasionally, and no doubt shared any and all maladies effecting human beings during that time in history.  As a carpenter, he probably worked very hard, was practical, and had a sense of design.  He must have had the occasional splinter, busted finger, and sneezed sawdust.  He was real.

And he still is.  He is not a fable or a legend.  He really did die.  He really did come back from the dead.  He really did ascend into heaven, where he lives and reigns.  He really did send us his Holy Spirit to guide us.  He really did.

How do I know these things?  I can say I have faith, but that wouldn’t be the whole truth.  That wouldn’t satisfy the average skeptic, because I too have doubts.  Can you believe that?  Yeah, it surprises me too.  So, I have had to look for proof.  I found it.  Don’t expect any fairy stories here.  I’m a romantic, but also a realist. (Blame my life experiences for that.  It hasn’t a perfect one.)  My proof was rationalization.  I read the stories of Jesus in the Bible.  But I came to discover that the Bible isn’t the only proof of His existence and life.  His very existence, and those of his disciples and family, are documented in other ways.

I also consider the extent of His follower’s passionate beliefs.  And the extent of that belief reaching far and wide, to places the original disciples could never have dreamed of.  Plus, they were eye witnesses.  And many more eye witnesses surface in history.  Consider the saints.  Visions and prophecy?  Sounds far-fetched but mysteries such as those are beyond my realm of understanding, but that doesn’t mean I don’t believe.  A short post of mine will not provide all of the proof a skeptic needs.  Everyone has to do their own exploring.  I can only testify to what I believe.

So, it’s been a quiet Easter Sunday here.  The hubs recently had surgery and is quietly recuperating in his big easy chair.  I took a nap too and have spent the rest of the day contemplating how blessed I am to be a believer.  At Mass this morning, Father Charlie Ray passionately spoke of the life, death and resurrection of our Lord.  He said something unique that will always stay with me.  It was in regards to the legions of us who aren’t so faithful about worshiping in church, those of us who come up with all kinds of excuses not to go.  He said “God doesn’t want you to worship Him the way you want to.  He wants you to worship Him the way He wants to be worshiped.”

I  can’t presume to second guess what God wants.  But I have a good feeling that the traditions of believers over the centuries can’t be entirely wrong.

At the end of the day, appreciation goes a long way and appreciation of what God did for us, the way He brought us from the brink of living in hell, lends itself to a type of worship that is beyond understanding.  I hope He receives it in the spirit it is given.  It comes from the heart.

New Blog!


Hi folks, guess what?  I started a new blog.  It’s going to be fun!  It is called  May I Present…

I am going to use this blog to share joy.  It will feature special events that people want to share – weddings, births, grand openings, parties, etc.  Any event you want to share via the web can be posted to this blog.

Check it out, give it a ‘like’ and a comment.  Let me know how you like it!

http://mayipresent.co/2015/03/14/mr-and-mrs-timmy-hebert/