In light of current tragedies


tree 005This is a wire Tree of Life shadowbox sculpture I did back in 2012 entitled Bayou Religion.  I did 3 of them.

I believe it is pretty appropo for today.  I hope you see why.  May they rest in peace.

Please please pray for peace, an end to violence and hate, and renewed hearts.

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GOD GARDENING ~ a personal experience


Anyone who knows me knows I love gardening.  My garden is Eden to me.  I have planned it to attract birds, bees, squirrels.

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I’m not really accomplished at it, not really a green thumb here as the compost pile can attest to. Lots of failures in terms of trying to grow something and having poor results.  I remember the first time I tried to have a pot plant. I was 17 yrs. old.  My first apartment was over a garage and it was so rickety the dresser mirror slapped the wall when a person walked across the floor. It was downtown Alexandria on Fisk Street, the rent was $40/month, and my landlord was Mr. T.W. Moreau. But it was home for me and I loved it. I wanted to make it my own by having a real live potted plant. I went downstairs and dug up some dirt, put it in a pot, and planted a piece of ivy someone gave me. First of all, Mr. Moreau wasn’t happy about the hole I dug, and secondly, I had no clue about a plant’s basic needs like light and water. Or potting soil. Funny thing now that I look back on it, I didn’t have a clue about a much of anything!

A lot has changed since then. I can call myself a gardener about as well as I can call myself a writer and an artist. I use too many quotation marks, commas, and colons. I start over with a painting as much as I have finished results.  Ha!  The painting I’m working on now, I had to wipe out 4 times before I got what I wanted and that was just the undercoat!  That’s just what I do. That doesn’t mean I have reached the pinnacle of what the world deems success, it just means that I have done what my heart desired. I have learned to nurture.  I’ve learned to garden.

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There are shortcuts to gardening and maybe everything else. I have found over the years that the rules of gardening correlate to the rules in life. For example, the species of humans must have community, friends if you will. Gardening is like that. All your friends want to give you a piece of theirs. You accept seeds or a plant from one friend, then another, then one more.  And before you know it – a little piece of all your friend’s gardens now live at your house. You water when it’s dry, throw a little Miracle Grow around when you think about it, pull a couple of weeds every time you go outside – then voila, people think you have a green thumb. It’s simply not true. You just have very good friends. My garden has my mother’s and Aunt Kat’s hostas. Faye, Sylivia, Deborah have shared a multitude of flora and fauna with me. Sue gives me a start of a Night Blooming Cereus every year. Every year, yeah, because somehow I manage to…. Well, I don’t even want to say it. I have daylilies galore. They keep multiplying, kind of like friends. A shortcut, but one with staggering success if you put your heart into it. My heart is into it because of my grandmother. She had a real greenhouse. I can remember the smell and her constant attention to it. It represented something akin to love and security to me.

Over the years I found that gardening is like loving God. Yes, it is. He who made all things. He who loves. He who nurtures. You wouldn’t believe how thankful I am for that! Gardening has revealed Him to me. He provides just the right amount of whatever is needed by His creation. Don’t you just love that? Please let me show you how He works this into our very own lives:

We’ve kind of had a struggle the past three years. There has been major illnesses for both my husband and myself. I have kicked it in the butt but my husband is seriously ill at the moment. We are two (barely) old folks who love each other very much, fight like cats and dogs (it’s in our DNA) and share every aspect of our lives. When I hurt, he hurts. When he hurts, I do too. Sometimes we have worldly needs that might take some creative financing. You know, the limited (barely) old folks budget thing because of medical bills, etc. Here is something I have learned; it is not necessary to worry about these things. Period.

A couple of months ago, I was commissioned to paint a picture for a Christian organization called the ACTS (Adoration, Community, Theology, Service) retreat community. To my surprise, I found it easy to come up with a composition reflecting the theme to match the future retreat for women as requested. Must have been the art angel sprinkling grace dust upon me. I don’t know. Anyway, I painted two pictures and over the weeks it took, I made it clear that this art was a donation to the community because my own spirituality had grown due to them. I love the ACTS organization. They are amazingly talented in revealing the love of the Lord to one and all. Finally the day arrived when two reps from the community, Charlotte Wasmer and Father Derek Ducote, came to assess my simple paintings and make a choice as to which one they would choose.  Fr. Derek asked Charlotte which one she wanted. She quietly said “I want both of them”. I couldn’t believe it and was so happy and humbled. We had a great visit for a couple of hours before they left taking both paintings with them. It was wonderful.  They gave me a beautiful card of sweet gratitude signed by several ACTS personal.  Before long, I got a text from Charlotte saying she left a love offering and I would know it when I saw it.   What!?   I found the envelope. I got chills when I opened it. I took it to the living room where my husband was lying down. I told him “you have to look at this”. He said he didn’t need to. I told him more firmly, “you have to look at this. I told you God would provide.” He took the envelope and his mouth dropped open.

Two weeks or so before, I threw a fleece before the Lord. If you don’t know the term, it means asking the Lord to provide for a specific need. I needed new tires on my car. I asked for that. And I trusted.

The envelope contained $400. The tires cost $398.

If that’s not GOD GARDENING, I don’t know what is!

Do me a favor please.  Will you pray for peace?  Please.  So much is going on in our country, government, world.  Let us all turn to God.

 

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Do me a favor please.  Will you pray for peace?  Please.  So much is going on in our country, government, world.  Your prayers are very much needed.  Let us all turn to God.

 

FAITH


backyard bouquet

I’m sitting here on my back porch, relatively early in the morning for me at least.  You’ve heard the phrase “drinking in the loveliness of the morning”?  Well, that’s me at this moment.  It’s almost cool for the first of September, a little overcast, breezy.  I look at my flower beds, the pergola the hubs built for me, the wisteria that has decided after 17 years that it wants to relocate.  Hanging baskets on the porch.  Rocking chairs waiting for someone to put them in motion.  Wind chimes whispering, not full throated as they were designed, but quietly as if somehow they don’t want to disturb the peace of the morning.   You may think I’m nuts but I feel the presence of the Lord.  Yes I do.  Body, soul and spirit.  The love.  He is love.  It’s almost like heaven.

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I need this right now, this beauty, this peace, this love.  Isn’t He wonderful?

This morning I want to talk about faith.  I’ve been exercising mine a lot lately.  I’ve had to draw on it pretty regularly and I’ve come to think of it in a different way than I have before.  It was a remark made by a very compassionate priest to my husband while he was in the hospital this past week.  I wasn’t in the room but the hubs told me later.  Apparently, my man said something to him about me.  Father Bill told him that I have a great faith.  Who, me?  Hmm.  He doesn’t know how I really am, does he?  I don’t know the man well enough for him to see me in the throes of a tap-dancing fit, or having an all-holier -than-thou attitude.  Father Bill doesn’t know I am frustrated, fearful, angry, selfish, self-centered, my moral compass askew at times.  Trying to be strong and missing the mark.  How strange.  This man of God thinks I have great faith and my husband agrees.  Lord, I’ve got a lot to work on.  How do I live up to that?

I will say this:  I do love the Lord.  He has shown me His love by saving me from many perils; health issues, calamities, and indeed, from my own foolishness.  And you know what?  He doesn’t have to prove His love to me.  For heaven’s sake, He is God.  But He does, He wants to.  He envelopes me with His love.  He is always there when I need Him.  I talk to Him and I try to listen to Him.  He speaks to me through many different avenues – His Word, people he puts in my path, the beauty of sitting on my back porch.  Many different avenues.  I, the one who rarely trusts anyone, feel the pull to completely trust Him.  He has an uncanny way of revealing Himself to those who are open to Him.  I like to think I am.  I get in my own way sometimes and am not as alert to Him as I should be, but I try.

Is this faith?  Maybe.  But you know what?  I don’t want to have faith.  I want to be faith.  I want to have the fortitude not to ever doubt that my various situations in life are part of His will for me.  I want to trust without question, not constantly have to learn to trust.  I want to be faith enough to not have that knee-jerk reaction of fear every time my world cracks a bit and threatens to fall apart.  I want to be faith enough to be kind and loving, to help others find peace, to not think of myself first.  I am not skilled in any of those attributes but I’m trying.  It’s going to take a lifetime for me to reach that pinnacle, if I ever do.

Have you ever thought about these things or am I just weird?  Do you ever long to be as good as the saints and angels?  Here’s a news flash.  Those saints – most of them weren’t angels.  We just celebrated the feast of St. Augustine, that one was a real booger if you ask his mom St. Monica.  But he came around.  And he was one of the finest examples of faith a person can find.  (He learned it from his mom!) Amazing, isn’t it?  He didn’t just have faith, he was faith on earth.  The work he did for our Lord is incomparable.  Praise God!

Being faith as opposed to having faith is much harder.  But there is help.  You know Who.  Him, the kind Teacher, the compassionate Lover of all, the One Who is love.  The Object of our faith.  His offering to us didn’t stop on the cross, although that is the ultimate sacrifice and most important selfless act of all time.  He continues to offer us Himself.  He loves with abandon and teaches us how as well.  He never gives up on us no matter how wayward we become.  He offers us the gift of hope when we aren’t sure the sun will come up in the morning.  He has a plan for each of us individually, personally.  We just have to open our eyes, our hearts, our will to him.  We have to strive, not only to have faith, but to be faith.  One of the most marvelous things about God is that if you don’t feel like you can do this yourself, ask Him.  He will show you how.  He’s good like that.

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If you are a praying person, I have a few requests for your prayer list:

Please pray for the Catholic Church.  It appears that the enemy has wormed his way in, in an effort to destroy all God has built.  The Church as a whole will never give in to this.  Pray for the strength to oust this evil, to rebuild and to continue to proclaim the true Word of God to mankind.

Secondly, please pray for my beloved husband.  He is very ill right now.

Third, please pray for peace.  The world needs your prayers right now, this very minute.

Let me tell you about MY day!


Yesterday was quite a day for me. I had a ton of things on my to-do list, not the least of which was a fast trip to Lafayette, a Dr appointment, and having the oil changed in my car. I was only a thousand miles over due for all of it. I had to get serious and get accomplished.
The trip to Laffy was a success. Good news from the cardiologist! In fact, I told him “if this is what normal feels like, I wish I would have gotten a pacemaker years ago!” He smiled. I don’t think he quite understood me. But he’s not on the receiving end of going from 40 beats per minute to 60 beats per minute instantly. The best way I can describe it is being in a drag race. You know. You’re at the starting line and all you can do is idle. Then the green flag drops and somehow you’re in the ride of your life. This is no ordinary cruise. This is what life feels like! I’m so thankful to have that experience, especially since I’m young enough (ok, by my standards) to enjoy it. Ain’t God good?

The appointment behind me, on to lunch. The only reason I even mention it is because I wasn’t a good girl for lunch and maybe a confession is in order. In my mind the success of my doctor’s report meant I deserved to treat myself to grease, cheese, and sugar. How screwed up is that? But I never even considered I could be shooting my own self in the foot.  *sigh*  One day, I’ll learn. I’ll learn to think first. Maybe. Lord, please help me.

On to get my car’s oil changed. And gas. The little computer thing in my vehicle said I could go 48 miles before I ran out of gas which only added to my angst. Then to make matters worse, straight in front of me on this busy street, a little dog was practically skipping in the middle of the road, not a care in the world except for the two boys walking on the side of the road. He kept his eye on them but wouldn’t go to the side they were walking on. Instead he was dodging traffic and finally settled on trotting directly in front of my vehicle as if he thought he couldn’t come to any harm there. I, on the other hand, was breaking into a stress sweat, the worst possible kind according to the commercials on tv. Blowing the horn didn’t make the pup move. I rolled down the window and hollered at the boys. “Is this your dog?” The smallest one looked at me and nodded. The oldest boy just kept his face in his phone. I told them “son, you need to get your dog out of the road. He’s going to get hit or cause an accident.” The oldest boy waved me off and mumbled a few choice words I won’t repeat and something about not wanting to go all the way back home with the dog. The dog trotted to the side of the street with the boys. I drove on to the nearby gas station but I wasn’t happy. I was seriously worried about the unleashed dog and the potential for disaster. And I was fuming about the oldest boy’s attitude. In MY day… oh you know how that goes.

I was still worried after the side trip to the gas station. I had to drive back to the area I last saw the trio because it was right where I needed to go for the oil change. The boys and dog were still there. The dogs was darting everywhere, in and out of traffic, causing drivers to either brake or swerve. I pulled up beside the boys and got out of my car. “Let me have your mom’s phone number and I’ll call her to come get the dog.” The youngest started to say something, the oldest started to swear. He cursed me up one side and down the other. I lost it. An argument ensued. Yes it did. It ended with me getting back in my vehicle and retreating to a far away place in the parking lot so I could calm down. Then it hit me – call the police. So I did. The nice dispatcher listened as I relayed what was going on before very pointedly asking me if I was calling about the dog or the kids. Well, the dog of course. The belligerent kids were their mother’s problem, not mine. But I do have to admit my blood pressure had to be high. The nice lady said she would send a patrol car.
Again, I had to return to the boy’s vicinity (oil change, remember) and I parked where I could see the boys. On my way into the store, the oldest one spotted me and raised his hand, one single digit at attention. You know the one I’m talking about. He saluted me all the way to the store. The only thing I said was I’m sure your mother would be proud. That remark momentarily dropped the middle finger salute.
The store had big commercial windows that made it easy to watch what happened next.   The pup was playing in the grass on the side of the street with the youngest kid. I was happy to see the boy pick up the little thing and walk back in the direction from which he came. The oldest kid saw him leaving and caught up with him and started fussing. The little kid kept walking, apparently in defiance to what he was being told. I was proud. All this time the oldest kid never took his phone away from his face. From his expression, he seemed to be even more annoyed. About one minute later a pick-up truck pulled up behind them and a man got out. It appears heated words were exchanged. Then a police cruiser appeared, lights flashing. I turned away and went about the business of asking for an oil change. To be honest, a store clerk who watched the whole thing go down told me “good luck with that one. He comes in here and steals all the time.”
While waiting for my car to be serviced, I phoned a friend so I could ventilate. That was when I had the thought – what if the cops came into the store and arrested ME for harassing little children? Not that they were little children. The oldest was 17. I knew that because as he was spewing at me, he mentioned that he was no kid, he was 17. Lord have mercy.
The whole incident stayed with me all the way home. I fumed, I prayed, I complained to God about it. Later, I sat in the peaceful seclusion of our back porch and relayed to my husband what happened . He listened and gave me his opinion about juvenile delinquents and cautioned me to never stop anyone on the side of the street ever again. “You don’t know kids these days. One of them could have pulled out a gun and shot you!”

It wasn’t till later I finally calmed down enough to listen to what God had to say about it. Later was too late. I should have consulted Him first. He would have told me to go into the store and buy a leash for the dog, bring it to the boys and make a sorry situation better. I could have taken the high road but I didn’t. I gave into what, quite frankly, turned into a control game. I ‘lost my religion‘, as we say down here in the South. I could have, should have, done something different. I could have, should have, set a good example for the kids. I could have, should have, offered kindness and compassion. The truth is, it turns out I was a Saul before he became Paul.

Lord, I thank you for the lesson but I’m sorry I didn’t see it sooner. I’m sorry I didn’t think to do the right thing. I’m sorry I didn’t practice what I preach. Please forgive me and help me do better next time. In time. Not as an afterthought. Bless those boys, Lord and please put someone in their path who can and will lead them into the right direction. And please send a dog guardian angel to take care of the pup.

Love always,
Nancy

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Don’t forget to pray for peace, y’all.  Let’s storm heaven with our prayers!

“My child, if you accept my words and treasure up my commandments within you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; if you indeed cry out for insight, and raise your voice for understanding; if you seek it like silver, and search for it as for hidden treasures—then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.”

Proverbs 2:1-5

 

I’M JUST LETTING GO


It was so hard for me to get out of bed this morning. The alarm went off at 6 a.m. and I turned the bedside lamp on. At 6:30 my sweet husband came into the room with a cup of coffee and told me “I heard you snore so I thought I better do something.” What? Me, snore? Yeah, that was me. Oh how I wanted to sleep! But here’s the thing – I wanted to see Jesus more than I wanted to sleep. I practically had to scratch my way out of the warm and cozy trap that is my bed and adjust my crown of attitude into one more conducive to dedicating my Sabbath to the God of Glory, instead of What Nancy Wants. If attitude can get a person anywhere, projecting a good one is a start. So, half an hour late already, I struggled to set about getting ready for early Mass. Wonder of all wonders, I managed to get dressed and head toward Bunkie town.

Flash back: In June, I had the true honor of being one of the many prayer ministers at the Steubenville South Youth 2017 Conference in Alexandria, Louisiana. Long ago, when the movement first came to this part of the country, I was a part of the prayer team but took a hiatus when I married Pete and moved further south. It felt so good to be back into it this year. Man, if only I could tell you in human words what it is like to gently nudge a young person to the Way! All that to say this: The message, the speakers, the music, everything was great. It was mighty. A person would have to be a pillar of salt not to be moved. Hosted by Paul George, who by the way, knows how to get a young person’s attention (“clap once if you can hear me, clap twice etc.”) That really tickled me. The speakers were quite the line up of young adults who knew where they had been and know where they are going. Fr. Leo Patalinghug (EWTN, & Beating Bobby Flay – think “Holy Guacamole”), Megan Mastroianni, Chris Mueller, Sarah Swafford. Our own Josh Blakesley Band (http://www.joshblakesleymusic.com), and guest Sarah Kroger(http://www.sarahkroger.com) provided absolutely perfect music.

I’ve been a fan of Josh Blakesley & company for years. In fact, although my beloved and I are in our -ahem- 60’s, we have been known to travel the 40+ miles on a Sunday evening to Mass in Alexandria during which the music is rendered by said band. Enter Sarah Kroger. I had not heard of her before Steubenville South 2017. I found a couple of her CDs for sale and scored.

Ok, now flash forward to today: On the way to Mass, my thoughts were the usual “gosh I’m getting old, how did this happen, maybe it’s too late to do so-and-so, my memory is missing, something is wrong with my brain, gosh my hands hurt, oh, my back, this oldage is killing me, on and on and on.” Suddenly for some strange reason, I heard Sarah Kroger singing. Oh yeah, I forgot I was playing her CD. The words I heard captured me, literally dragging my attention away from my internal dialogue. Wow. How did that happen? The song must have been written for that very moment in my life. No? Well, you might not think so but I do. Let me say this about that; isn’t it amazing how God’s timing is perfect and how He reaches us exactly where we are and exactly when we need Him? Here, read these words.

“I thought by now I would be running on an open road

Not here standing with a heavy load

Unable to move

I thought by now it would be everything I ever dreamed

Not unsure of what there is for me

Or what I should do

And I can’t see straight and I just can’t seem to find my way

So I’m letting go, I’m letting go

For once in my life

I don’t need to know. I’m just letting go

Oh I’m letting go.

And like a friend this heaviness is settled in my soul

I don’t have to hold it any more

You whisper to me

“Be still don’t fight. Just let me make the burden light”.

So I’m letting go, I’m letting go

For once in my life

I don’t need to know. I’m just letting go.

Oh, I’m letting go.

I will not be afraid to open up my hands

I will not be afraid to let you in

I will not be afraid, your love is more than I could know

So I’m letting go, I’m letting go

For once in my life

I don’t need to know. I’m just letting go

Oh, I’m letting go.”

Powerful, huh? I meditated on that after I took a seat in church. The message I got from that wonderful song is simply to stop worrying and trust more. Sounds like a cliché but it is what it is. It comforted me. It helped me see that the course my life has taken is not so far off what it should be. I am more aware of the road I am on. If I can let go, if I can trust.

Now here’s where it gets Real. To my delight, Father Taylor Reynolds was the Celebrant for Mass. I’ve watched him grow up in Bunkie. His mother is a lady I know and admire. He is with our parish for the summer before he returns to Rome in the fall. So you can imagine how it warmed my heart to see him this morning. When Father Taylor read today’s Gospel (Mathew 14:22-23) he had my complete attention. What he said afterwards brought tears to my eyes. And it still does. It is the story of Jesus walking on water. Allow me to paraphrase the homily. First Jesus leads the disciples to the boat, rides with them to the other side of the lake, and then leaves them and goes off by himself to talk to his Dad. The guys on the boat carry on until the wind gets tough, the ride gets rough and terrible fear moves in. Suddenly, they look up and see Jesus walking on the water toward them. But, as Fr. Taylor pointed out, he didn’t calm the seas. He didn’t tell the wind to stop. He did, however, say “don’t be afraid”. Peter told Jesus “Lord, if it’s You, tell me to come to you on the water.” Jesus said “Come” So, Peter stepped out of the boat in faith. Then he faltered. But Jesus reached out and caught him. Thank God! Fr. Taylor pointed out how close Jesus was to Peter as he took his faltering steps and started to sink. He was right there, close enough to grab him. What wonderful news! What a fantastic analogy!

So the lesson God gave me today goes like this; Life is a journey, yet another cliché, but true none the less. On this journey we hope we are doing the right things. We have our problems, our burdens, our forks in the road. We don’t know where to turn. We need Him to show us the way. We need to trust Him through the storms. We need to step out in faith and know that Jesus is right there for us when we falter, and feel like all is lost or it’s too hard to carry on, or we don’t know what to do. We need to believe.

Let go. Release the heaviness in your soul, your burdens, your insecurities. Step out in faith knowing that He is in control and He won’t let you go. He’ll be there for you and with you throughout your journey. “Be still, don’t fight. Just let Me make the burden light.”

I’m praising Him for that lesson today! Oh Jesus, I’m loving you! Thank You from the bottom of my heart! I wish I could convey my concern and compassion to the many who have not yet entered into a life with Christ. It just doesn’t make sense not to want to love and be loved, not to want a richer life with riches that matter and carry over into the next life, the one that is Eternity, not to want a better, more meaningful life. I’ve had a life without Him, although as a believer I thought I had it all. Wrong. There is more. So much more.

Below you will see the CD cover I reference by Sarah Kroger.  She’s awesome.

 

Pray for peace, people. Our world needs your prayers.

 

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!