Saturday, December 15, 2007
Saturday, November 10, 2007
Anger is a secondary emotion, a signal emotion. It is usually hiding the original emotion that is just too scary to access. When I am angry, I know that I am feeling incredibly vulnerable behind it. One process that I have been practicing when I am angry is to ask myself
What am I afraid of losing?
Now, walking in faith is such a very easy thing to say I want to do, like KB describes in his recently reposted post Faith and Fatalism. I have walked out the fatalism part very, very well. It's the faith part that I trip over.
It takes faith in Someone bigger to face the anger and truly know how destructive it has been.
It takes faith in Someone so loving to receive forgiveness for that anger.
It take faith to let go of that anger that shields my heart and trust that Someone is (not will be, not maybe will be) my Shield and Protector.
It takes faith to finally let the Source in my heart be one of absolute love instead of suspicion and fear.
From Meetings at the Edge by Stephen Levine:
Dr Levine was counseling a woman who had lost a husband and two sons to cancer. Her nine-year-old daughter was dying of lymphoma and this mother refused to address dying with her daughter, believing that she would die from the grief. Here is a part of what Dr Leine said to her:
"We spoke of resistance to life which filters every perception, which pushes away our connectedness with all that we love and leaves us feeling so isolated. And I encouraged her to just start to breathe in to her heart with whatever love might meant to her at that moment and to breathe it back out, to send it to her daughter. That her essential connectedness with her daughter would become apparent beyond the ancient barricades which had so often kept her separate from the moment."
This mother was able to do this in the last weeks of her daughter' life. She shared that "we talked at length about cancer and God. And I told her that I loved her in a way that even losing her could not diminish. I don't think that I have ever acknowledged my feelings to anyone so directly. It was terrible. It was wonderful."
Opening my heart to the truth of myself led to opening to forgiveness.
Another client refused to forgive her husband as they both faced potentially fatal illnesses.
"As the heart opens, sometimes the armoring and pain that has held life away become so distinct we think we may die from it, that our heart will burst; but it is in a manner of speaking, just contact with that place where you have been broken-hearted."
And what does our wonderful Jesus promise--
Psalm 147:3 He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
He promises to restore us, to make us strong and steadfast and firm (1Peter 5:10).
With these promises and an assurance, I can "open to my anger in order to access my love."
"...we discussed what the qualities of anger in the mid are and how it closes the heart, how isolated we feel when anger i s a predominant experience and how frightening that experience can be. what self judgement it generates and what a feeling of aloneness it leaves us with. as We spoke of resentment and its investigation, tears mixed with vituperative resentment poured from her. But amidst her agitation there was a spark, the light of an opening heart shining through, of a sense of love that had probably accompanied her during much of her earlier life. Also, as she spoke, she could hear in her own words the power of anger to close the heart, to make everyone else 'an other,' to close her off from life.
"And so you know...that when we speak about 'opening the heart,' that doesn't quite get at it--the truth is that the heart is always there shining and we must just learn to 'open to it.'"
"There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment." 1 John 4:18
Isn't about time to stop punishing?
Thursday, November 8, 2007
My B-MOD paper is due soon--
Do you remember Yoda, the syntaxically challenged little Jedi master from the Star Wars series? ( I always thought that anyone/thing that advanced should know how to speak correctly, but maybe he was way beyond that. He was still green, wrinkled, and had a funny voice. Within that context, I prefer Kermit the Frog.) Anyway, he was full of wise little sayings designed to confuse, piss off, and ultimately lead Luke to a Zen state of Jedi conciousness wherein he could move objects with his mind. Surely this would be useful when he wanted to find the remote and there weren’t any children around to find it for him. Just think about it and it will zoom out from under the couch cushions and into your hand! Same with beer from the fridge! But I digress….
Yoda’s foundational words of wisdom that skewered Luke’s ego (and hopefully taught that lesson that After School Specials and Very Special Episodes of Blossom had been trying to teach to pre-teens) was the adage “There is no try, only do.” Did Luke’s worldview shift when he heard that? Of course it did! All is possible! Nothing is impossible! Where is that remote? It can’t hide from my mind!
Yoda’s voice got stuck in my mind (or maybe it’s Kermit’s) but his words got tweaked a little to fit my worldview: “There is no try, only fail.”
Well, shit. There, I said it. What have I got to lose if you don’t allow cursing in a paper? It’s all over anyway.
There’s a song by the Arc Angels that addresses this mindset perfectly: Too Many Ways to Fall.
So I started there. How many times a day do hear that Yoda voice? Establishing a baseline was easy—he never shuts up! All day, every day, the smallest, most ordinary task is poisoned by the belief that I can’t even find ripe bananas at the grocery store and that's a reason to feel guilty. Now, how am I supposed to be a good mom and teach my girls to be strong and confident when every interaction and communication with them is tainted with my own guilt? I have pre-failed in situations that haven’t even happened yet!
I had to sit with this for a while and just watch my thoughts go by. They were ugly and thin, and I had enough of them. Ugly little Yoda, you’re going to get the ass-kicking of your life.
First, I identified the behaviors that grew out of this mindset: consequences: procrastination, refusal to invest in relationships, suspicion—okay, there are probably a lot more, but a girl can take only so much negativity!
So, bottom line, what do I want in place of the negativity? A positive self-image, an honest view of myself that mirrors the truth—that no one is perfect, shit happens, and that is OKAY
"There is no FAIL, only do.”
Every day, we listen to this song on the way to school, and anytime I need some reminding (which is often).
Every day, I want to walk in faith instead of fatalism
Friday, November 2, 2007
Kaitlyn Wade, a 13-year-old cancer survivor who was critically injured when the vehicle she was riding in was hit by a suspected drunk driver May 18, got out of Cook Children's Medical Center after five months of recovery, on Thursday, November 1, 2007. . (Fort Worth Star-Telegram/Joyce Marshall)
I've been following this story since May--read the rest of it here.
Saturday, October 13, 2007
When I asked God for wisdom, I didn't expect to have it to show up in the form of people in recovery. Hurting, rejected, struggling people who are grateful for a smile from a "normal" person. I am humbled that they share with me and are teaching me about forgiveness, acceptance, and peace. None of them are ordained ministers; all have been booted out of a church one time or another--and every one of them has found redemption and unconditional love--from God Himself, not the god that was presented by the local congregation/ministry.
My eyes have been opened.
Sin: A Reformed View
"For the churches I had attended sin was what you did or didn't do. But the Reformational view is more of our nature after the fall and what we do or don't do comes out of that. When this view is accepted, and I wholeheartedly subscribe to it, we see why the Christian Right, as well as legalism in so many churches, have failed. When sin is who you are instead of what you do, the only way out is through a complete transformation through the cross. Of course this will upset most Christians when things like homosexuality are dealt with. Let me say it again so you'll get it. Sin is who you are, not what you do. Sadly, the homosexual/lesbian/transgender community has IMO a better theology of their condition than we do."
Monday, October 8, 2007
I'm about to send another letter and package to a soldier in Iraq. Go to Soldier Angels to find out how you can support our soldiers.
Ava's daddy, Justin, is in Iraq for his third tour.
Saturday, October 6, 2007
Teen Ran For Help After Plane Crash
The pilot will survive, but has devastating injuries.
Colby was a long-distance runner on the school track team.
Saturday, September 29, 2007
Saturday, September 29, 2007
Popular Mechanics has published a list of 25 skills every man should know. I added my own comments regarding my experience with each skill.
1. Patch a radiator hose with Ivory soap
2. Protect your computer for FREE
3. Rescue a boater who as capsized pull the boater into your boat
4. Frame a wall and sheetrock it too? How about texture and paint (see #17)
5. Retouch digital photos because every woman should look like Pam Anderson~
6. Back up a trailer loaded or unloaded? Boat ramp or driveway?
7. Build a campfire Girl Scouts
8. Fix a dead outlet make sure to switch off the breaker first
9. Navigate with a map and compass Girl Scouts
10. Use a torque wrench pit crew
11. Sharpen a knife whetstone or fancy sharpener? You can borrow my daughter's whetstone...
12. Perform CPR Girl Scouts/midwifery
13. Fillet a fish use the right knife--electric works
14. Maneuver a car out of a skid on ice? or in the rain?
15. Get a car unstuck or help a guy get his truck out of the mud with your Mommy Suburban and your rope!
16. Back up data So old...
17. Paint a room see #4
18. Mix concrete under the house...on your back...and pour a few piers, too...
19. Clean a bolt-action rifle and shoot it
20. Change oil and filter before the "Oil" light comes on...
21. Hook up an HDTV and the cable connections, and the computer network with a wireless router
22. Bleed brakes get a partner
23. Paddle a canoe and make it go where you want it to go
24. Fix a bike flat Girl Scouts
25. Extend your wireless network see #21
And if you don't know how to do it, ask your wife!!!
Because Milly asked, I found this---
25 Skills Every Woman Should Know from Busymom.net
1. Take off a bra through a shirt sleeve
2. Select the right color foundation
3. Choose the proper people to accompany you to the bathroom at the bar
4. Change purses with the seasons
5. Describe the difference between the colors "off white", "bone", and "cream"
6. Call someone to change a tire
7. Mix patterns on furniture and clothing
8. Select a trashy novel for reading at the beach
9. Keep kids busy in order to go to the bathroom alone
10. Tell the difference between real Coach purses, and, knock-offs
11. Prepare an elegant appetizer from random pantry supplies for unannounced company
12. Drive someplace unfamiliar at night in the rain
13. Respond to a child's midnight announcement of, "I have to bring 75 brownies to school tomorrow."
14. Find the nearest outlet mall
15. Discuss the differences between capris and cropped pants
17. Filch the phone number of a good babysitter from the neighbor
18. Get makeup off a cell phone screen
19. Extract the good candy from the Halloween bags without the kids noticing
20. Make him think it's his idea
21. Actually download pictures from the digital camera
22. Create 3 or more plausible reasons to "stop by Target"
23. Make store bought bake sale goodies look home made
24. Drive in the snow
25. Surprise a child by going to Sonic for a "treat" without him knowing it's because you need a Diet Coke
Thursday, September 27, 2007
Friday, September 7, 2007
One of my favorite authors, Madeleine L'Engle, has died.
"God says, 'I love you! I love you enough to come and be with you. And because I live forever, you will, too.'"(Penguins and Golden Calves, 35)
Thursday, September 6, 2007
"Just because you challenge assumptions of tradition doesn’t make you impious.’~Mimi Haddad
And another thing: why do women continue to attend churches that oppress them?
Some interesting commentary--
What do you think? What have you lived?
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Mark D has some news!
AND his baby is a year old! I need to get one of those...(a baby, not a birthday)
Monday, August 27, 2007
Last Christmas was when I first noticed that ugly soulfog creeping in, but it showed up in the form of social anxiety and a bound-up back. Holiday blues coupled with the worst winter cold I've had in years--that's all.
Then the worst semester of school--ridiculously difficult and boring classes (to me)with an equally ridiculous and boring professor who never missed an opportunity to disdain Christianity. Not something to look forward to three days a week--
Emily graduating and leaving for 10 weeks, learning to embrace death as a part of life--and all the while, that low-grade soulfog dragging me down, sucking the energy out of me. I slogged on, determined. Just determined that depression wasn't going to keep me in the gray.
A trip to Nashville/Kentucky pushed it down for a week--we had fun and not one bickering moment in 1500 miles. Just me and my two girls in a Suburban traveling through Arkansas (aka Lucifer's Hollow)--I'll be doling that story out one tidbit at a time!
But there it was, waiting to hug me when I got home. I can't think, can't remember a damn thing, and I don't really care.
Life continues, and the floors need refinishing. So there I was, on my hands and knees, running a belt sander for 12 hours straight on 50-year-old varnish. Yes, I used a mask. Didn't help. In 24 hours, my body had called it quits, refusing to take in air without making me pay for it in panic. Every joint and muscle hated me. The first 10 days of August exist only has pain and panic for me. Insomnia, night sweats and chills so hard my knees and elbows would lock up and Miriam would wrap her arms around me until I stopped shaking. Both she and Abby told Phil I needed to see a doctor because my shut-down brain was not comprehending( the lack of oxygen to my brain had something to do with that) not understanding--until I thought I was having a heart attack in the middle of the night.
Ladies and gentlemen, wear your particle mask and use the proper equipment when sanding anything. You can be poisoned by breathing in toxic 50-yr-old varnish. That coupled with a hormone defiency (can you be in the red in hormone production? Apparently you can...) took me down, down, down. My body finally stopped like a tired puppy does on a long walk. No more. Just. No. More.
And did you know that the right balance of nutrients in you body will work miracles? I glady swallow 30 supplements a day --for now-- getting my depleted system back in working order.
It feels as if I've been away for 9 months (yes, I get the symbolism) and have just returned.
I've missed you.
Monday, July 30, 2007
Sunday, July 22, 2007
My house doensn't feel like my home any longer. For the last 17 years, it has been filled with little girl laughter--where are they now? All grown up and moving on. I've always said that it is my job to work myself out of a job, but now that Em is launching her own boat, of course I want to reel it back in. I'm not ready!
Where are my little girls? Abby is in HIGH SCHOOL, and Miriam is in MIDDLE SCHOOL with all of those---MIDDLE SCHOOLERS!
Child advocacy is the toughest job you'll ever love...ain't that the truth. I can't save them all and that's huge. Finding a place to hold the pain so it doesn't overwhelm me--well, that's a trick that I haven't mastered yet.
My Tiger kitty died accidentally at the end of May.
Remember Bug? She had a heart condition that couldn't be fixed, and I had to choose. A crippled life that assuaged my guilt, or freedom from a dying body? She left us in June.
I have been battling soulfog for a good while now.
(If you don't know what soulfog is, just think about it for a minute.) Stepping back and turning over the stones that make up my life allows me to see just where I am.
In a minute, I'll be ready to embrace life again with arms wide open--but right now, I'll stay right here, under His wings.
Thursday, July 5, 2007
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
The first time I heard about Columbus was in February. My casework supervisor mentioned a foster child who was in the hospital with neuroblastoma. He had been in isolation since November. I just wanted him to know that someone cared, someone was worried about him, someone thought about him while he was alone in the hospital.
His doctors knew he needed a bone marrow transplant, but he would need someone with him 24/7. Without a family to turn to, they were not willing to do the transplant.
Raelene has a daughter who spent an entire year in the same unit as Columbus battling the same disease. When she heard about his dilemma, she got busy. A pool of volunteers from all walks of life committed to sitting with Columbus while he recovered, so he received the transplant.
The first time I met Columbus, he was so, so sick. All he could do was cry and sleep. Everything hurt him, even holding him, which is what he wanted. Sometimes all I could do was hold his hand while he slept.
Being with him was like watching a dead man rise. Every time I visited, he was better, although still in pain and so upset during any procedures, especially redressing his main line/heart catheter. He wanted to sit on my lap to read, to watch tv--he just wanted to be touched without pain. We did get to play basketball and he loved me giving me "coffee." How did he know how much I like coffee?
The last time I held Columbus was the day before he went home. He wanted to be held up to the window so he could see anyone and everyone outside and wave to them. While I was holding him, he noticed my nose piercing for the first time. His eyes got big and he asked what it was. Before I could explain to him what is was, he said, "Is that your line?" He thought is was my med line just like his heart catheter. He looked around and found a flower sign made out of sticky foam. Plucking a petal, he put it over my "wound" saying, "There. That makes it better."
When we played basketball, he ran to get the ball and stopped suddenly. "I'm running! I'm running!" Pretty wobbly and not real fast, but this four-year-old was running for the first time in months and it made his day. He kissed me good-bye (a first) instead of being sad when I left--because he was so excited to be getting out of that room the next day.
Not long after Columbus went home with his foster family, he got sick again. I visited him on Sunday, but he wasn't there. His body was, but he was already running with the angels.
Monday, June 25
Dear Friends of Columbus,
The doctor called me at 5 p.m. and told me that Columbus died at 4:07 p.m. He was a special little boy loved by many people who were not related to him by blood but connected through the heart as we cherished him and loved him through our Heavenly Father. He changed my life in that I saw someone faced with great obstacles besides his cancer and he still had a smile, a laugh and a hug for me.
Thank you all for investing so much time and love into this sweet, dimpled four year old. I am comforted in knowing that he is in a much better place and not suffering anymore and I will see him again in Heaven.
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
A Journey through the Darkness
The Darkness is a very real place. It is filled with despair, yet it seems to be the only place where I am not invisible. Hope, joy, fulfillment are just words, not a way of life. What an irony, that the only place that is real is the one place that tortures me. And what of the faith that led me to give my heart to Jesus, that has kept me alive when I was convinced that I was poision to my children? I must be beyond hope, even beyond His reach, because the Darkness is still here.
Meditate on these:
I John 1
I Peter 1
Psalm 31:25 (NIV)
She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.
How in the world does this happen? How can I, broken, full of the dark shame, be clothed with strength and dignity, laughing at the days to come?
Hebrews 2: 11-15
For both he who makes sacred and those who are being made sacred are all from one family. For this reason Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters.
He says “I will announce your name to my brothers and sisters,
I will sing festive praise songs to you in the midst of the assembly.”
And AGAIN, “I will put my trust in Him.”
And AGAIN he says, “Indeed, here I am, AND THE CHILDREN THAT GOD HAS GIVEN TO ME.”
So since the children went into partnership with flesh and blood, he also pretty much shared in their flesh and blood. This was so that through his death he would abolish the effects of him who holds the power over death, that is Slanderer-Liar, and RELEASE the one from death, those in fear, who all their lives were liable to the penalty of slavery.”
Song of Solomon 2:14“ O my dove, in the clefts of the rock, In the secret places of the cliff, Let me see your face, Let me hear your voice; For your voice is sweet, And your face is lovely.”
I have no trust, no hope for light.
“Shine your light, God, in my darkness. I want to be clothed in strength and dignity. I will lift my head up so that you can see my face because I am beautiful in Your eyes.”
Monday, June 18, 2007
"When someone asks you 'think about what Jesus would do', remember that a valid option is to freak out and turn over tables" -- Unknown
Sunday, June 17, 2007
KB has a lot of wisdom regarding the heart; several times in the last week my own has been stirred by his words. Today is no exception: Thick Skin, Soft Heart reflects my own desire to be mature in this area. Forgiveness isn't a problem--trust is the issue. In my searching, I found this article on controlling anger.
God save us from having to "win" and be the cause of anyone's thick skin.
Monday, June 11, 2007
I have been sitting with a 4 yr old boy in the local children's hospital. The volunteer effort was coordinated by a missionary, Raelend Soritau. I received this e-mail today from a friend of Raelene's:
I am writing today to make sure that you all have been informed about the current status of Raelene Soritau and her family. As you already know, her daughter Tori first came to the US to seek treatment for neuroblastoma, the same kind of cancer that Columbus is being treated for. In fact, it was Raelene who started the whole effort to recruit volunteers to help with Columbus.
If you have had any contact with the Soritau family you already know what a super special family they are. They sold their car and packed up a few belongings and came to Fort Worth over two years ago without knowing how long they would be here or even how many of them would ever get to return to Romania where they serve as missionaries.
In May they were cleared by the doctors at Cooks to take a long awaited two week trip back to Romania to visit all of the family and friends that had been praying for them and missing them so much. However, on their way back to the US Tori became ill and had to be hospitalized in London. She since has been diagnosed with e-coli bacteria and is very ill. Her kidneys have stopped producing urine and she desperately needs to return to Cooks.
In order to get home she must be upgraded from her coach ticket to first class to accommodate all of the medical equipment that must accompany her and she must be escorted by a doctor and nurse on the flight home. American Airlines is charging them $20,000 to fly her home. Obviously this is money that a missionary family from Romania would never have on hand. In addition, each day she spends in London is accumulating into a large hospital bill that must be paid privately, no insurance in Britain. Plus the family is having to stay in a hotel during this time in London and if any of you have ever traveled to England you know that there are no cheap hotels in that city.
If any of you are able to help with this extreme situation please contact our church.
Hulen Street Baptist Church
7100 South Hulen Street
Fort Worth, Texas
817 292 9787
Wednesday, June 6, 2007
From my own journal in 2004:
Here I am, a seeker, learning (finally) to mother myself and seek myself. Learning (finally!) that it is not a selfish thing, but a balancing act. Having learned to mother others by letting them learn on their own as much as possible, I am free to seek my own purpose, my God-given role on this earth, my part in bring His Kingdom to pass.
This new chapter and knowledge--digging into the Truth of the Word and learning what God really meant when He created man and woman--how He values women as much as He values man, that we are created equally by God.
God, you have been preparing me for this from the beginning-- and the Enemy has fought so hard against me.
How did I come to this path? How did I come this path and not my sisters or brother? What makes me different? Not better, but different?
And even as I write, I am humbled by the answer from You: that You are faithful to me as I have been fatihful to You. No matter the circumstances, we walked together, always. You have been my Guide, my Light. And You promised that You would never leave me.
I am deeply humbled by the privilege and responsibility You have set for me. I need Your wisdom and boldness to carry it onward and outward.
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Class of 2007
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Sunday, May 20, 2007
I have to post these rules before I give you the facts:
Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules. At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.
1. I am the only person in my family to wear corrective lenses (since the 4th grade). Did I inherit this from my grandfather or is it a result of German measles at 18 months? At 40 years of age, it doesn't matter, but lasik would be a nice Christmas present!
2. I deal with social anxiety (recently diagnosed). Dread of social situations--the panic attack kind of dread. And not just with new situations--ANY social situations outside of my own home.
3. I was an obese child. Not overweight, obese.
4. My fave breakfast: bananas with peanut butter, walnuts, flax seed, and coconut butter.
5. I was President of the Thespian Society in high school, and Best Character Actor for the same year. Yes, I am a theatre geek.
6. I still haven't decided what I want to be when I grow up.
7. I am not afraid of spiders, snakes, or lizards, but scorpions scare the liver out of me. (a little history there.)
8. My husband plays solitaire on this computer to wake up, so this is my eighth. Even if it is about him. And he is standing behind me with his coffee.
Monday, May 14, 2007
read about Shane's wish, then RUN, don't walk to the mailbox! (Don't forget to share this link.)
Thursday, April 19, 2007
An excerpt of my required reading/comprehension since January:
"During translation, the sequence of codons along an mRNA moecule is decoded, or translated, into a sequence of amino acids making up a polypeptide chain. The codons are read by the translation machinery in the 5'--3' direction along the mRNA. Each codon (triplet code) specifies which one of the 20 amino acids will be incorporated at the corresponding position alon a polypeptide. Because codons are base triplets, the number of nucleotides making up a genetic message must be three times the number of amino acids making up the protein product. For example, it takes 300 nuceotides along and mRNA strand to code for a polypeoptide that is 100 amino acids long."
I sit and stare at my blog page --and the synapses do not fire. They are all used up.
Questioning a Tragedy: Where is God?
By Lauren Green
"Virtue in distress and vice in triumph make atheists of mankind." — Anonymous
This is a quote I always think of when horrendous events, like the Virginia Tech tragedy, occur. Great tragedies either draw us closer to or away from God.
The worst single shooting incident in U.S. history is slowly sinking into the psyche of this nation. Like the tragedies of past times — such as Columbine and Waco — this one will also be remembered forever. From now on, the name “Virginia Tech” will be synonymous with the murder of 32 people that were shot dead one spring day by a lone gunman, who unleashed holy hell on innocence.
The grief is personal, raw and intense. There will be no escape from the searing pain this loss brings to parents, siblings, friends and the community. We know the greater the love, the greater the pain is when it's lost ... especially when it's sudden and violent.
The process of grief is a long winding course, that includes anger. Many will turn the questioning to God: “Why, God, did this happen? How could a loving God allow this?”
The answers to the questions are complicated, but what many theologians stress is that God is sovereign — although each person has free will to choose between good and evil — and that comfort and hope are found in him. The "whys" to any tragedy may not have satisfying answers soon, or even in this lifetime.
At the convocation on Tuesday afternoon, Virginia’s Governor Tim Kaine made references to calvary, where Jesus died on the cross, and told the thousands gathered that despair is a natural emotion — but not to let it cause you to lose your faith. He talked about Job, the Old Testament's most afflicted servant of God: Even though Job was angry at God he never lost his faith.
President Bush said, "In times like this, we can find grace and strength from a loving God." And, he quoted from the Bible saying, that we should not be "... overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good."
These are the lessons of the Bible.
Those who aren't particularly religious may look for more scientific answers. The focus will then turn to the shooter himself. Why would a student with no criminal past or typical dysfunctional family history commit such horrors? Was he on medication? Was he a psychopath?
We do know that the gunman wrote a story for a creative writing class that was so disturbing he was recommended for counseling. He also may have stalked some female students that he liked, but whose affection were never returned.
If there's any phrase that should raise the shackles of any parent, teacher or friend it's that "he was a loner." That description has been stated at least twice by officials trying to answer the question of why 23-year-old English major Cho Seung-Hui unleased hell on Virginia Tech. They could not find anyone who knew him well, which means there was no one he confided in. He had no close friends, which means there was no one he could cry with, or express his deepest longings to. He was living in a virtual prison of his own making, but blamed others for locking him in it.
In the book, "The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil," author Dr. Philip Zimbardo sheds light on the shooter's inner demons. "The Lucifer Effect," based on the Stanford Prison Experiment of 33 years ago, shows how a prison environment creates evil behavior, like what occurred at Abu Ghraib. It explains group or system-wide evil, like that under Hitler, communistic regime or the genocide in Rwanda. He says the evil is not about a few bad apples, but a bad barrel. That's the group dynamic.
But there are other kinds of "prisons" not confined to a place or a building. These are the emotional prisons that "normal" individuals live in daily. Whatever that prison is — whether it’s shyness, loneliness, anger, hate — it can grow to unmanageable proportions, and manipulate an individual into believing that their only course of action is to break out, using any means possible ... even violence.
According to reports, a note left by Cho Seung-Hui talked about the "rich kids," "deceitful charlatans" and "debauchery." And there is also talk that he may have been rejected by a woman, or women, that he had feelings for. Perhaps in Cho's mind, these people were his "jailers" — the wardens of his prison responsible for his emotional incarceration. He vilified them, found them guilty of great offenses and then logically executed his warped sense of justice ... and murdered 32 people.
Both theologians and some secular psychologists agree that all of us are capable of great "evil." We only need the right combinations of events that progress unchecked.
The bottom line is that there are no simple or concrete answers that offer comfort. However Dr. Richard Lints from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, said it's important for Christians and people of all faiths to "be present with people as a sign of hope, not as a sign of explanation, but that we don't give up because of what happened."
So where is God? He is in the prayer vigils. He is in the rivers of tears flowing from everyone affected. He is in the community coming together to offer support to the families. He is at work in the love and strength people are offering each other. God is with us.
Lauren Green serves as a religion correspondent for the FOX News Channel. Prior to this, Green served as a news anchor for “Fox and Friends,” where she provided daily news updates and covered arts for the network.
Sunday, April 1, 2007
Thursday, March 22, 2007
"One person may read the Bible, but a hundred people will read the Christian."
Read the rest of the story right here.
Wednesday, March 7, 2007
There were all of these beautiful people sitting around on the Oprah show talking about a "Secret." Their lives were changed because they believed that good things could/would come to them. "That's faith," I thought, too busy to really go any further with it. Now they want other people to pay them so they can learn the secret, too.
Fast forward a few weeks. A friend calls me raving about the SECRET. She is ready for good things, wonderful things to come to her--so excited, so full of expectation--she is full of faith.
I look at my life, my expectations. There is something very wrong with this picture...
"I'm ready, God, for good things to come to me." And I expected the walls to come crashing down on me. What kind of god is this who withholds good things from his children?
Lord, You see how I cling to my little gods
I have tried so hard to please them.
But they are harsh and abusive and I cannot please them.
They are awful little gods, but they are all I know.
I have grown accustomed to them and
Adjusted my expectations to their smallness.
I am weary to death of the gods who come from shame, LORD.
I long to worship You, God of Grace.
I long to worship You.
You are the God of Glory.
Give me eyes to see You today
Give me a heart that hopes in You.
From Rooted in God's Love, Dale and Juanita Ryan 1991
"I am ready, God, for good things to come to me because I believe--I believe that You are Jehovah, Breath of Life, and You love me."
Now, this may not rock your world like it did mine-but the universe shifted as soon as my heart received the goodness of God. It's been forty years of tug-of war--trying to do the right thing when I need to believe the right thing: Jesus loves me.
Oh, and here's a newsflash: Jesus has been around since well, forever. What's so secret about that?
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Domestic violence and assault seems to come from out of nowhere. You are having an argument with your spouse and suddenly, it just gets out of hand. The police are called, and you find yourself in jail, charged with domestic assault. Often these cases arise during the course of a divorce when tensions are already high and tempers can flare without warning.
These charges are not to be taken lightly, however. Generally, you will be charged with a misdemeanor assault unless you use a deadly weapon or cause serious injuries such as broken bones. However, even in situations where you were charged and convicted of a misdemeanor, a second domestic assault charge can now be charged as a felony under Texas law. This is true even if the second charge is based on nothing more than a hard slap or pushing your spouse down. Therefore, you need to take any domestic assault charge seriously even if it is your first.
At Gioffredi & Associates Dallas, TX
STAFFORD, Va. — A woman convicted of a felony for throwing a cup of ice into a car that cut her off in traffic was sentenced to probation instead of prison, a judge ruled Wednesday.
Jessica Hall faced between two and five years in prison after she was convicted last month of maliciously throwing a missile — the cup of ice — into an occupied vehicle. No one was injured in the incident last summer.
Monday, February 12, 2007
Not me--nada. At one time, I trusted everyone ( I had no boundaries--NONE)--and now I'm at the other end of the spectrum. I trust no one completely. I'm willing to try, but my history with boundaries is so spotty that I'm still learning what/how/why/when/where/who.
Which means its a lonely road--and I'm the one walking it. This is a common trait for anyone who has been abused in any way--uber sensitivity that is acted out in unrealistic boundaries, or being a control freak, or giving in to addiction, or...pick one!
NACR Daily Meditation for Monday, 2/12/2007
by Dale and Juanita Ryan
(Rooted in God's Love, the book from which these meditations are taken, is back in print. For details go here)
"I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!"Mark 9:24
We live somewhere between belief and unbelief. Our faith wavers. At times faith is strong and stable. At times it is weak, and shaken.
For many of us, our capacity for trust has been diminished by experiences with people who were not trustworthy. We have learned by painful experience that we will be disappointed if we trust. One of the most intense struggles in recovery is to rebuild our capacity for trust and hope. We want to believe, but we are afraid.
Some people believe that God will respond only to people who 'believe enough'. "If you have enough faith, God will hear you," they say. But Jesus said "All you need is faith the size of a mustard seed." The mustard is the smallest of seeds. God does not reject small, limited faith. God will not ignore even the desire to believe. God will not dismiss a willingness to learn to trust. Mountains have been moved by less. God accepts our limited faith.
Lord, you see my struggle to believe, to trust,and to hope.
You know my fears, my hesitations, my questions.
Help me to accept the limits of my faith.
Help me to bring my limited faith to you.
Copyright 1991 Dale and Juanita Ryan
Wednesday, February 7, 2007
Rick Perry needs to get his hands off my daughter's reproductive organs!
song by Josh Ritter
all photos copyrighted 2007
Kara Troglin, Alice Whisman, Robin Dodd
Sunday, February 4, 2007
Hmmm...seems I've been on the Lazurus path before; exactly one year ago, I wrote this:
It seems as though Elohim is taking me to places that will redefine every thing I've known about Him and myself. Unlike kel, I have not moved geographically, but I have moved spiritually to new territory. It's like going through the dark coat closet and discovering a new country. It seems magical, and some parts are, but it is also the most dangerous place I've ever been. ( I think I will re-read the Chronicles...) I think the real question in my mind is, "Are you sure, God? Remember who this is You're thinking about using for Your purpose. It's me! " I do want to rise above my religion, to know Him by getting to know Him, not listening to other people tell me about Him. I believe that's what He wants of me. And how do I do that?
By listening to Him.
By asking, listening, and obeying.
By receiving healing, true healing.
When Jesus raised Lazurus from the dead, do you think that Lazurus walked around for the rest of his life with death inside of him, coloring his every thought, dream, and relationships?
"Sorry, I can't get involved with you because I have this fear that I may die, and I don't know if Jesus can raise a dead man twice."
"Well, I'd get a job, but I might just drop dead any time. It's happened before..."
"I need to process this whole dying thing. Where were you, Jesus, that you didn't keep me from dying? Yeah, I know you made me live again, and my life is a living testimony to your healing, mercy, and love, but, really Jesus, if you really loved me, why did you let me die in the first place?"
"No, Mary, I can't pray with you right now. I'm too depressed from being in that dark cave for so long. Martha, could you not clean so loudly? I need to focus on me right now."
" 'Lazurus, come forth.' What did he really mean by that?"
So maybe Lazurus had his bad day. But that man knew true death, and was raised from the dead to a brand new life. And so was I.
That same Jesus who commanded Lazurus to "COME FORTH!" from the grave has spoken the same words over his children.
Come forth out of the grave of tradition and religion.
Come forth out of the grave of sin and unbelief.
Come forth out of the grave of hurt and unforgiveness.
Come forth and LIVE.
My choice is to live.
To live in everything that He has in store for me, not what culture, or tradition, or the past demands of me.
Now fast-forward one year--and I can see through those backward binoculars how some of the grave linens have been removed from me, the veil removed from my face. He has shown me my own weaknesses, failings, habits, and stones in front of my heart that keep me from the fullness of His life.
And I'm getting there, slowly, as each time a little less time goes by between sitting in the dark cave and the stepping out into His light.
"God has helped!"
Thursday, February 1, 2007
No one told me that CASA training would be a therapy session. The topic was Childhood Separation and Loss, leading into the stages of emotional development according to Eric Ericson/Freud and how children respond to abuse.
I should have known.
After how many years of dealing/healing and still my foot starts bouncing under the table and I have to concentrate on the trainer’s voice–I’m not lost in a flashback, just mighty uncomfortable. A few times I look away at the city lights just to retreat a bit from the subject matter.
I wonder if I’m ever going to be okay.
“If the foundation gets broken, the building is weak. The higher they try to rise, the more the building gets jacked up.”
That makes sense. Everything makes sense-I recognize too many traits of jacked-upness in my own life. Sigh….Foundation work is a mess and costs a fortune–but that’s God’s job, right? The truth is that my foundation was broken, but it’s being fixed, and I can help fix other people’s foundations now—right? That fragile thread is all that is keeping me from leaving that training room and admitting defeat.
Then someone asks the question: “Can they ever be fixed?”
What kind of question is that? Why are you here if you have to ask that question? Can they ever be fixed? Your face needs to be fixed!
The trainer was quick to answer that STUPID question–she couldn’t yell “HELL, YES! What are you doing here if you have to ask that question?”–she said “Of course!” and I really didn’t hear the rest because of the buzzing in my head.
I remember talking a little too much to the trainer afterward–seeking some validation/attention from the authority figure–and of course feeling embarrassed about it all the way home–stinging from knowing that they (all of them at CASA) are rolling their eyes behind my back, judging my neediness and being entertained at my expense–
And all of these ridiculous, irrational insecurities lead back to the question:
“Will I ever get fixed?”
I thought about taking care of that bottle of Merlot that's been getting lonely on the wine rack--
I thought about stopping and getting a half gallon of Extreme Moose Tracks to share with me, myself, and I.
I thought about getting the entire box of Ritz crackers and giving Mr. P the stink eye when he glanced at me...
I sang with Aretha all the way home.
It was late when I got there, and cold outside. I took my last vanilla cigar outside and stood in the back yard in the full moonlight, smoking and thinking. Mr. P came outside for a minute--it was COLD--but I wasn't ready to share with him. Always the same old same old.
Will I ever be fixed?
I thought about my last post and those powerful words--
"You're about to be given new grounds for believing."
"I am, right now, Resurrection and Life.""Didn't I tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?"
I paced that backyard, trying to stay one step ahead of despair. "I'm not feeling it, God. I'm just not feeling the glory."
He led me to a spot and I looked up--and there, in the lit up dining room window, were my three lovelies, telling stories, reading, drawing--just being glorious.
Jesus looked me right in the eye and said (say it with me!):
Didn't I tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?!"
Sunday, January 28, 2007
The Death of Lazarus
1-3 A man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. This was the same Mary who massaged the Lord's feet with aromatic oils and then wiped them with her hair. It was her brother Lazarus who was sick. So the sisters sent word to Jesus, "Master, the one you love so very much is sick."
4 When Jesus got the message, he said, "This sickness is not fatal. It will become an occasion to show God's glory by glorifying God's Son."
5-7 Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, but oddly, when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed on where he was for two more days. After the two days, he said to his disciples, "Let's go back to Judea."
8 They said, "Rabbi, you can't do that. The Jews are out to kill you, and you're going back?"
9-10 Jesus replied, "Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Anyone who walks in daylight doesn't stumble because there's plenty of light from the sun. Walking at night, he might very well stumble because he can't see where he's going."
11He said these things, and then announced, "Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep. I'm going to wake him up."
12-13 The disciples said, "Master, if he's gone to sleep, he'll get a good rest and wake up feeling fine." Jesus was talking about death, while his disciples thought he was talking about taking a nap.
14-15 Then Jesus became explicit: "Lazarus died. And I am glad for your sakes that I wasn't there. You're about to be given new grounds for believing. Now let's go to him."
16 That's when Thomas, the one called the Twin, said to his companions, "Come along. We might as well die with him."
17-20 When Jesus finally got there, he found Lazarus already four days dead. Bethany was near Jerusalem, only a couple of miles away, and many of the Jews were visiting Martha and Mary, sympathizing with them over their brother. Martha heard Jesus was coming and went out to meet him. Mary remained in the house.
21-22 Martha said, "Master, if you'd been here, my brother wouldn't have died. Even now, I know that whatever you ask God he will give you."
23 Jesus said, "Your brother will be raised up."
24 Martha replied, "I know that he will be raised up in the resurrection at the end of time."
25-26 "You don't have to wait for the End. I am, right now, Resurrection and Life. The one who believes in me, even though he or she dies, will live. And everyone who lives believing in me does not ultimately die at all. Do you believe this?"
27 "Yes, Master. All along I have believed that you are the Messiah, the Son of God who comes into the world."
28A fter saying this, she went to her sister Mary and whispered in her ear, "The Teacher is here and is asking for you."
29-32 The moment she heard that, she jumped up and ran out to him. Jesus had not yet entered the town but was still at the place where Martha had met him. When her sympathizing Jewish friends saw Mary run off, they followed her, thinking she was on her way to the tomb to weep there. Mary came to where Jesus was waiting and fell at his feet, saying, "Master, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died."
33-34 When Jesus saw her sobbing and the Jews with her sobbing, He was deeply moved in his spirit and was overcome with intense emotion
34-35 "Master, come and see," they said. Now Jesus wept.
36 The Jews said, "Look how deeply he loved him."
37 Others among them said, "Well, if he loved him so much, why didn't he do something to keep him from dying? After all, he opened the eyes of a blind man."
38-39 Then Jesus, once again deeply moved, arrived at the tomb. It was a simple cave in the hillside with a slab of stone laid against it. Jesus said, "Remove the stone."
The sister of the dead man, Martha, said, "Master, by this time there's a stench. He's been dead four days!"
40 Jesus looked her in the eye. "Didn't I tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?"
41-42 Then, to the others, "Go ahead, take away the stone."
They removed the stone. Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and prayed, "Father, I'm grateful that you have listened to me. I know you always do listen, but on account of this crowd standing here I've spoken so that they might believe that you sent me."
43-44 Then he shouted, "Lazarus, come out!" And he came out, a cadaver, wrapped from head to toe, and with a kerchief over his face.
Jesus told them, "Unwrap him and let him loose."
Right now, in this life with its stones and potholes, sicknesses, disappointments, and despair--
when Jesus looks you right in the eye and says "If you believe, you will see the glory of God!"
What are you going to do?
Stand in front of the stone and process? Or get out of the way?
What death linens bind you and blind you? And are you willing to release the security of them and embrace Him?
"And you will come to know the truth, and the truth will set you free." John 8:36
Lazarus--"God has helped"
Saturday, January 27, 2007
Remember when the Southwestern Theological Seminary stuck their noses in private prayer a while back?
In October, seminary trustees drew criticism within the Southern Baptist denomination because they voted not to tolerate promotion of “private prayer language” at the school. Two months before, the Rev. Dwight McKissic of Arlington said during a chapel service at the seminary that he sometimes speaks in tongues while praying.
This theological Jabba the Hut is now doing the zeroing on women.
Posted on Fri, Jan. 26, 2007
Prof: Seminary made her leave because women can't teach men
By TERRY LEE GOODRICH
STAR-TELEGRAM STAFF WRITER
FORT WORTH - An Arlington pastor says Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary committed “a moral injustice” by denying a female professor the chance for a tenure review because of her gender, and he has filed complaints with two accrediting agencies, asking them to investigate.
The Rev. Benjamin Cole of Parkview Baptist Church filed complaints Thursday with two agencies — the Association of Theological Schools and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools — saying that the Fort Worth seminary’s treatment of professor Sheri Klouda violated its own policy and jeopardizes its accreditation.
At issue is the interpretation of a Southern Baptist doctrine statement that says the office of senior pastor is limited to men, and Southwestern President Paige Patterson’s interpretation that it also means that only men should instruct future pastors, Cole said.
A follow-up article on Jan. 27 (Pastor says prof hit glass ceiling
By TERRY LEE GOODRICH
STAR-TELEGRAM STAFF WRITER) contains the well-rehearsed pious PR spin --but it still smells rank to me.
Patterson could not be reached for comment, but he has said his interpretation follows "the biblical pattern that we need men in that capacity."
Cole said the seminary's handbook advocates gender equality for tenure review in all its schools, including theology.
Van McClain, chairman of Southwestern's board of trustees, declined to comment. In an e-mail to The Associated Press, McClain said that the seminary has not changed its policy but that there was "a momentary lax of the parameters, and [Southwestern] has now returned to its traditional, confessional and biblical position."
PEE--EEWW!! Somebody take out the trash!!
Saturday, January 20, 2007
This was an interesting assignment: read the assigned novel and analyze the passages that affected you the most. Write about why they affected you. My book was "On the Road" by Jack Kerouac.
Little boxes on the hillside,
And the people in the houses
And they all play on the golf-course,
And the boys go into business,
There's a green one and a pink one
Ah, the American Dream—according to the WASPs who governed the nation in the beginning of the 20th century (and still wield a powerful amount of guilt and judgement). The dreamers, the poets, the mavericks—well, they just needed to conform, because the American Dream is about being successful, and success is defined as having the right amount of money, working 40 hours a week, driving the right kind of car, living in the right place, being married by the right age, having 2 kids (one of each gender), going to the right church once a week, and paying your taxes. Sal Paradise, having attempted to live the American Dream and failed, has nothing to lose and everything to gain by following his star, or any star, across the country to breathe life into his dead, cold life ( Kerouac 5). Jack Kerouac’s novel On the Road documents his journey across the United States in search of “girls, visions, everything; somewhere along the line the pearl would be handed to me (11).”
What makes a person up and walk out of a life that has already been written? Was there a day when Sal woke up and decided it’s time to go (10)? Did someone tell him “You can’t,” and in a moment of heathenism he thought, “Why not?”
There was that day that someone pounded the table in front of me and yelled, “You don’t matter! What you want doesn’t matter! How you feel doesn’t matter! What I say matters! What I want matters! How I feel matters, what I say matters, what I want matters because I am the man and God made me the master over you!” My life had been written by a religious psycho and I was the only one who could rewrite it. And so I did. I followed Sal on the road. I got three daughters, visions, everything; somewhere along the line, the pearl was handed to me.
When mavericks and dreamers are pasteurized and canned into ticky-tacky spaces, they eventually explode like a bad batch of jam, catapulting across existence into spaces where they can dance and sing and jam and just dig everything that is going on around them. I sing the same song as Sal when he confesses that when “they danced down the streets like dingledoodies, … I shambled after as I’ve been doing all my life after people who interest me, because the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue enter light pop and everybody goes ‘Awww (9)’!” I looked at my mother, my two older sisters, my grandmothers, my aunts, the church ladies, the mirror and saw “her great dark eyes (that) surveyed me with emptiness and kind of chagrin that reached back generations and generations in her blood from not having done what was crying to be done—whatever it was, and everybody knows what it was. ‘What do you want out of life?’ I wanted to take her and wring it out of her (200)….She was eighteen, and most lovely, and lost (201).” It didn’t make sense until someone screamed it in my face and in a moment of heathenism, I thought for the first time, “I matter.” And I ran like my hair was on fire.
My mentor was a midwife who had been divorced twice, had lived with numerous men, had one baby out of wedlock, encouraged sexual experimentation, and questioned the existence of God. She smoked pot, drank when she felt like it, and was the head of her household. She was hellbound for sure. She fascinated me the way Sal’s hitchhiker friend fascinated him, “not because he was a good sort, as he later proved to be, but because he was enthusiastic about things (17).” I married her brother—after getting pregnant and being kicked out of my church. Then I met her sister-in-law, and we were all sisters now, a sister and two women married to her brothers who were asses in their own right by loving their children to distraction but having scars from their own crazy ranting bipolar mother and seeing us as crazy harpies when we would say “Why won’t you listen to me?”
God, what were You thinking when you made us blind with desire? Sal’s aunt could teach them a lesson; she believed that “the world would never find peace until men fell at their women’s feet and asked for forgiveness (101).” Don’t men get it? But, no, Sal's friend Dean speaks for the all of the men I have ever known when he declares that “I’ve pleaded with (his lover) Marylou for a sweet peaceful understanding of pure love between us forever with all hassles thrown out—she understands; her mind is bent on something else—she’s after me; she won’t understand how much I love her, she’s knitting my doom (101).” And Sal, a man raised by his wise aunt, nails it when he replies “The truth of the matter is we don’t understand our women; we blame on them and it’s our fault (101).” The hassles Dean hated were monogamy and responsibility. After he encourages Sal to “hook up with a real great girl if only you can find her and cultivate her and make her mind your soul as I have tried with these damn women of mine… (154),” his current girlfriend and mother of one of his four babies kicks his ass to the curb, as did both my sisters-in-law did their husbands. My husband did fall at my feet and ask forgiveness. I think I’ll keep him—for now.
Is this all just smoke and mirrors? Do we make up a story about God to answer our own egocentric questions of existence? Can we find Him? If nobody loves us, God will. If we feel like shit, guilty and ashamed, unforgiving and hopeless in our own life, God will redeem us. Really?
I look at my yellow tattered teddy bear that kept me company in the hospital when I three years old—he is the only thing I have from childhood that doesn’t make me cringe—and I hear Sal ask “Don’t you know God is Pooh Bear (253)?” and laugh, and say the same thing to someone who will laugh, too. She looks a lot like me, only innocent.
Kerouac, Jack. On the Road. New York: Amereon House, 1983.
Thursday, January 18, 2007
Thursday, January 11, 2007
Codepoke recently linked the Barna Group on home church. I heard an interview with George Barna and did some digging. J Lee Grady reviewed Barna's book Revolution and the discussion that followed lasted for months!
This is a book that I need to read asap.
I haven't regularly attended a traditional church for a few years. The thought of "going to church" makes me break out in excuses, but it really is time to get over it and get into the community.
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
6 He alone is my rock and my salvation;
7 My salvation and my honor depend on God ;
8 Trust in him at all times, O people;
Monday, January 8, 2007
My grandmothers--my goodness!
My namesake--Edith Alice--was a nurse. She raised six children as a single mother in the New Mexico desert. Remember the song "A Spoonful of Sugar Helps the Medicine Go Down"? My grandmother gave medicine with a spoonful of whupass.
And my other granma--we shared a birthday. She once told me that I was her best birthday present.
This is the granma that I knew best--Iantha Nadine. I know she loved me--but her love wasn't the cookie-baking cuddly granma kind of love. Get this--she showed her love by telling me how disappointed she was in me. This was supposed to encourage me to be better person. But she never forgot a birthday, calling all four of us early on our birthdays and singing "Happy Birthday my darling!" every year until she died. She made sure we had school clothes and winter coats and Christmas presents.
Both of my grandmothers were born and raised in small Southern towns. both were daddy's girls. Both were swept off their feet by men who moved them away from their families.
Edith went from being a nursing student/flapper who flirted and danced and sang "Alice Bluegown" on Saturday nights with her friends on Saturday nights to a newlywed in Santa Fe, NM. Santa Fe in the thirties was very different than it is now. It was simply a desert with a few buildings and beautiful sunsets. She had one son and nine months later gave birth prematurely to twin girls at home. The first baby was born inside of the amniotic sac. While she labored with the second twin, she instructed her husband to sterilize his pocket knife with a flame and cut the sac open to save the baby. He did, she recovered and had four more babies in eight years. While property was cheap she bought real estate in Santa Fe. (Can you imagine? She owned parts of downtown Santa Fe. I should be on a yacht in the Meditarranean right now...) Of course, the deeds were put in her husband's name--and he lost them in poker games. Ultimately, she was a single mother, married to a gambler and a drunk who died when my mother was 14 years old.
By the time I knew her, she was worn out. My own mother remembers her as tired all the time--how exhausted she must of been by the time her 13th grandchild was born. She did not like me, not for a minute. My neediness and insecurity completely irritated her and she dealt with me accordingly. Sometimes, though, she would tell a story about her mother playing the piano, or sing "Alice Bluegown," and here face would light up with the memory. Her smile was so rare that it caught me off guard with its joy.
Nadine stayed in West Texas with her husband. West Texas is just barren. (Some see a desolate beauty in its plains--I think it's just plain ugly.). She had been so poor and shared so much with so many siblings that once she had something of her own, it was going to be perfect. When she had visitors in her apartment, she would get down on her hands and knees to wipe thier footprints off the floor. She had one child, and she was determined that he would be clean ALL THE TIME. She put Joan Crawford to shame with her cleanliness. It wasn't next to godliness--it was godliness. Her husband was a man of few words--I think I heard him speak maybe a hundred words or less in the 28 years that I knew him--and I'm being generous.
Both of these women confused me. I wanted so much for them to be the cozy, cuddly ganmas that I had read about--with hugs, and aprons, and laps to climb onto, and cookies--always cookies--but neither had it in them be these things. It was only after we switched roles and I stopped wanting something from them that I truly got to know them. My granmas stood alone through disappointment and hardship and heartbreak with no one to lean on--until they had to trust me. I finaly found the strength that had borne them throughout their harsh lives that left no room for joy.
In her last days, Nadine sought me out to hold her hand while she prepared to move out of her home of 30 years. After a lifetime of independence, she was being told what to do, where to live, how to spend her money. She really, really didn't want to move--and I told her she didn't have to. We talked about her new little mobile home until she was satisfied that she could be happy there--then she went HOME the very day she was to leave her house.
Edith couldn't tel me anything--she died of Alzheimer's. The last time I saw her, she didn't understand why I was saying good-bye. Her confused, hurt look haunted me until a few days after she died. She came to me in a dream, laying her soft cheek on mine and said, "I understand."
Unsmiling Pillars of Strength,
You have given me the gift of never give up.
You have given me the gift of never look back.
You have given me the gift of making the best whupass pie.
You have given me the gift of your regrets in order to forge joy in my own life--and I have.
My life honors you.
My daughters honor you with their strength and freedom to sing and dance and be.
And I know wherever you are, you are finally smiling.
Thursday, January 4, 2007
Part I needs a Part II, so...