THE BOX

I first wrote this on Dec 5, 2020. I submitted it to the Upper Room for one of their posts, and it was rejected, so now I can share it where I want. (Oh the pain of my first rejection – lol)

Today I read a short story where someone was presented a small box as a gift, made crudely, with nothing in it.  The giver said his Mom taught him that love had to be shared, and that’s what he was doing.  I loved the story, and it made me think of my box.   I was still in bed when I read it, and I had to get up and come out and write it down. 

Some 23 years ago, I was going thru a divorce after trying to hold it together for 14 years, and on my way to a job change, and single motherhood.  At the same time, my Dad was going thru the awful debilitating disease of ALS.  He had lost the ability to speak and found it hard to swallow, eventually losing the ability to walk as well.  I don’t know or maybe I don’t remember the whole story, but he was out somewhere in his wheelchair with my Mom, when he made her go into the store and get this box.  Now, while he didn’t have much voice left, my Dad had a way of letting you know what he wanted.  My mom will surely attest to this.  He wanted the box to give to me.  It was a small (3” x 4”) box, made of cardboard, looking like an old wooden door with a brass doorknob and keyhole painted on it.  On the outside was written, “Remember when the going gets tough…” and when you opened it, it was empty.  The interior was black with a pair of little googly eyes and the words “You can always come over and hide in the closet with me.”  This was my empty, crude box filled with love from my Dad.  I still have that box as well as the little costume jewelry bracelet with the words, I LOVE YOU, engraved on it, that he also gave me.  It sits on the shelf of my headboard, and I will cherish that little cardboard box for as long as I live. 

It also reminds me of the love of God who is always there for me to hide myself in when the going gets tough. 

Prayer:  God of all, I thank you for your arms so full of love and comfort and peace.  I thank you that I can come to you and hide in the closet with you when things get tough, and when that closet door get’s opened, things are a little better. Amen

Inauguration Day Optimism

Flags are placed on the National Mall ahead of the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, Monday, Jan. 18, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Why am I awake so early?  Oh right, it is Inauguration Day, January 20, 2021.  I want to be sure and see that Trump leaves and Biden and Harris get in.  I want to witness this unusual event in our history.  I want to see what the beginning of a new reign, a time of hope and tentative peace looks like.  I pray that our country will reunite after being torn apart for 4 years.  I watch with dread almost – praying that there is no violence today, that harm does not come to anyone.  I watch as the former Presidents and spouses arrive at the Capital, both democrats and republicans, uniting in the pageantry of this day, uniting in hope of a new day.  I watch holding my breath, as the president and vice-president elect stand outside their cars, walk up the Capitol steps, and stand at the top of those steps together with their family turning to wave to people.  I am scared that they are a sitting target, but I am proud that they did not let fear take over the day.   It is sad that I might even think that, but our country has come to that point.

Am I an optimist?  Probably, but I have the hope from a different source.  I have hope that no matter what happens, I will someday live through my own peaceful transition, that the cares and worries that we have today will no longer exist.  I will be an invited guest at the inauguration of the greatest leader of all time. Other guests will include not Presidents and Politicians, but they will include members of my family who have gone before and friends who have truly inspired me. This HOPE is what gives me strength.  There will be no more opinions or fake news.  There will just be Truth.  I have no desire to leave this world, but I also have no fear of that time either. 

Addendum

What an honor to be a part of history!  I cannot believe the feelings of pride as the Pres & VP entered and the hope of unity was shared and endorsed. 

What I learned while coloring a Mandala

This one is a little older. Something I wrote during the class I took.

The design is not perfect
I tend to color outside the lines
I tend to start out dark and then get lighter
The colors can run together
Lines don’t have to separate the colors,
and
new colors don’t have to be used because there is a line.
Depending on medium used, pictures can be messy
It’s ok If I don’t like how it came out – I can start over
Different pressures have different results
Letting a tool or marker rest, can help it work better.

Sea Glass

Today My devotion came from Romans 8:28 – a well known verse in the faith, though often misquoted.  “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

The example was sea glass, often collected from the beach.  But where did it come from?   Originally it was part of a whole piece – a bottle, a glass, a window, something once whole.  But then it was broken, battered and ended up being a finely polished piece of glass wanted for a whole new purpose. 

I love this example.  First of all, if you know me, you know I love everything Beachy, so this appealed to me in more ways than one.  But the thought that we start out thinking we are in control, we are whole.  Then we go through life and face it’s ups and downs, sometimes breaking us, and then refining us.  This process is never fun.  In fact, it is definitely difficult.  Harder than I ever thought it could be.  Betrayal?  Back Stabbing? Lies told?  Hate? Prejudice? Illness? Death?

Yup, hard.  But any harder than Jesus suffered? Or even still does suffer? 

Do we come out of it all better? If we trust in Jesus and have the Holy Spirit in us, we do.  We come out as a beautiful piece of shiny polished sea glass.

Beautiful Sunset

It has been a tough week. Mom is ill and that’s never good. Since Jan 30, We have been to the ER, the doctors’ scheduled for specialist, cancelled by specialist, told by insurance she doesn’t need a referral, told by ins she does need a referral, and never told by anyone that she needs a preauthorization, not just a referral to see a specialist. Oh yeah, twice to the Pharmacy. Then this morning, I called her and got no answer. Now that in and of itself is not such a strange thing, she could be in the bathroom, she could just not have reached her phone in time, other reasons this could have happened. But I got no call back, and 20 minutes later tried again. Still no answer. Panic set in, I threw on some clothes and drove the 3 miles to her house, all the while trying not to speed or to imagine things in my mind. I stayed in the speed limit, but the other part, not so much. I was afraid of what I might find, and of course, imagining the worst, along with thinking, if only I had….

I got in the house and she was just getting out of her chair. All of that stress fell out of my mouth, of course, and I yelled at her, which I immediately hated myself for. Before I left the day before, I made sure the phone was charged and near her. Of course it wasn’t there now. “Somehow”, the volume got turned down and she never heard it. I nearly broke down, with both, relief and anger. It seems she just doesn’t get how serious she is. I hate that I have to scare her to make her realize it. Kind of reminds me of telling a child not to touch the flame and they just go ahead and do it anyway. Yes, life does come full circle. Part of it comes from the fact that she is not afraid to die and is sure of where she is going, when she does. She has been a widow for over 20 years, and has had 2 sons and a son-in-law die in the last 4 years, among countless others. I kind of get that, but it frustrates me to no end.

This afternoon, the exhaustion just finally caught up with me. After I spoke with her, I took a nap, a long one. I woke up near 5:30 and as I looked outside, the sunset was so beautiful, I had to go and get a picture and share it on Facebook. Immediately, the post had over 20 likes and comments from friends all over the country. It made me wonder why did this picture struck a chord with so many people, so fast.

Yes, it is pretty. In Arizona, we have a lot of sunset’s like that. By 6 pm, the light show was gone and it was dark out. The day has ended, but that last sight of beauty gives me hope. Hope that life will continue in the morning, with a new sunrise. In light of the national news in the last 7 days (not to mention months and years before that), we need the hope of a new sunrise, of a new dawn. I don’t care which side of the fence you are on, what we watched happen in real-time or in the reviews on every news station ever since, has been horrific. At least I don’t know anyone who has supported the violence shown.

So, yes, I feel life in general, has been depressing, but I must keep hope. My Faith tells me: “Weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.” (taken from Psalm 30). May you also have hope in the morning.

Lent

Good morning my friends.

 Did you know that Ash Wednesday is only about 1 month away? February 17? When I was growing up, and even into my teens, when I was extremely active in the Baptist Church, Ash Wednesday and Lent were barely if ever mentioned. My Catholic side of the family, always followed the rituals, of giving up something (usually chocolate or sweets) during that time, but I still didn’t know the real meaning of what Lent is all about. (same with Advent, but that’s a different story) Lent isn’t so much about what you give up, as what you replace that with. It’s about spending more time with God.  According to Google; “Beginning on Ash Wednesday, Lent is a season of reflection and preparation before the celebrations of Easter. By observing the 40 days of Lent, Christians replicate Jesus Christ’s sacrifice and withdrawal into the desert for 40 days. Lent is marked by fasting, both from food and festivities”.

     Since I was sick, I have used Facebook to stay connected, and it’s been even more of a lifeline since Covid started.  But what am I missing out on while I am on social media?  Definitely time to study God’s word.  Also I was so excited about a course I took a few months ago on contemplative writing, that not only did I start writing, but even submitted a short writing to Our Daily Bread (no I don’t know yet if it will be published).  Because I was so excited about this new hobby, I received 2 beautiful journals for Christmas, and I haven’t written much in either of them.  I used to love photography for it’s own sake, not for posting my pics to show others.  I haven’t done that for a long time, either.  When I take pics with my phone, just to post them for others, am I trying to share the beauty? (sometimes) or show others what I have or what I am doing(sometimes this too).  Sometimes I even feel that I am missing the party, but taking pictures of it.  Of course, this does not apply to pictures of my kids or my grandkids.   (Please don’t take this as an indictment to all of you who post meaningful thoughts, and pictures.  This is a personal issue for me. )

     I have also found that the anger and hatred being spread, draws me into the fray, where I become the same as anyone else, fighting to have my opinion and beliefs heard and accepted.  I have recently found that FB has an option to “unfollow” people, and have started using this for those who I have strong disagreements with.  It keeps me connected but removes the negative issues from my life – well some of them anyway.  I still spend way too much time online, scrolling along, clicking on advertisements and spending money on things I either don’t need, or don’t have the money for. 

    So, I am beginning a quest – I will not remove myself from Facebook, as I do keep up with family and friends across the country.   I will start limiting my time, and not be “on” all day.  I may not answer or respond right away, but I will.  Time for me to get off my butt and do the things I like.  I will keep y’all posted. 

Hope Looms

So, a short background, have had back pain since October 2017, continually worsening.  Only help is ice and meds that knock me out.  From 1 of the x-rays of my back, it was advised that I had a kidney stone in the left side.  Most of the back pain has been on the right side.  Also dealing now with my partial denture not fitting correctly and issues with one of the connecting teeth.

So, both, neurosurgeon (back) and urologist (kidney stone), decided they wanted to be sure nothing from my previous cancer was involved with current issues.  (Now in late spring/early summer, I went thru extensive tests before being diagnosed:  cancer free.)  Short time of relief, but now it was brought up again, and I don’t care how much you pray, how positive you try to be, that is a big thing in the back of your mind every day.  I don’t think I even realized the enormity of the stress.

In the last week, my neurosurgeon confirmed no cancer, a little arthritis, some disk degeneration, referred to pain management.  Saw pain dr, and have a non-surgical plan in place, for the end of September (1st available date) to have a Medial Branch Block.  This is a 2-step test with a follow up, so about a 3-day process.  If it works, and pain is relieved, they will follow up with an ablation (burning of the nerves that are affected).  So, NO CANCER & Hope in sight

Also, this week, my urologist confirmed no cancer, no kidney stones, possible issue with bladder (so further tests ordered for that), but again NO CANCER.

It was at this point, I just broke down.  I cried myself to sleep and have slept for most of 3 days and nights this week.  The relief was so physical, I now truly know what they mean by “a weight has been lifted.”  Not depression, but first time without the stress and wonder of “is the Cancer back?”.  Unbelievable freedom.

The dentist confirmed that the issues are again because of the chemo, which I suspected, and so my partial will now be replaced by a full upper denture, but if that’s the worst, I think I can deal with that.  Again, this will take time, but it allows me to make partial payments, so that’s ok.

Lastly, Mom again came to the rescue to help with a financial issue.  It makes me think again, how we need to rethink medical care in our country.  I’m not sure what the answer is, but I am still struggling since fighting with cancer.  I have very good insurance, and have been partially covered for wages, and I still am in such a hole, I may never recover.  I don’t know what people do without insurance and disability coverage.  Die, I would think.  I owe so much to so many, all I can do is try to pay it forward and pray I will be able to do that.  Today is the first time in a long time, I thought I might be able to do that.

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