Archive | July 2014

One Woman Still Under Construction

pink flower

Today my son is thirty-five.  I remember explicitly the day he was born.  I was nineteen years old, in a small town on the coast of Oregon away from all my family except my husband.  I was excited the day had finally come, but I was scared to death.   Someone told me that the memory of the pain of childbirth would be forgotten.  That was a lie.  I remember it completely!

He was born face up, and could not be turned, so in order to make room for his face to come through the birth canal the doctor cut me several times.  I ended up with two hundred and sixty stitches!  I remember someone asking me if I wanted the mirror placed so that I could watch the birth, but I said no.  I was in so much pain that I just wanted it over with, I had no interest in seeing what was happening to my body.

For those few hours this was the worst thing I thought I had ever been through and I did not believe I could do it.  Several times I begged the doctor to just take the baby out or push it back in because I wasn’t going to do this anymore.  I’ll bet all birthing mothers say that!

Finally, the only way I could push sufficiently was to practically sit up.  My husband held me up as far as he could and I used my entire being, everything that was in me, to push that child into the world.  At last!  It was done and my son was here, all in one piece and beautiful.  He was truly beautiful, with long lashes any girl would envy, a double crown in his hair.

I was starving,  I was so hungry and finally someone brought me a sandwich.  I took about 3 bites and fell asleep.  I didn’t see my son again for nearly twelve hours.  My breasts ached, I could see the nurses wheeling other babies down the hall to their mothers to be fed, and I cried and cried until finally they brought him to me.  I was the last one.  He had been sleeping and they didn’t want to wake him up.  I didn’t care!  After all that work I did, I wanted my baby and I wanted him right now!

After feeding him at my breast, I laid him down on the bed and took off all the clothes and just looked at him. Each tiny finger and toe, his little ears.  His sweet pink lips.  I had been afraid to have a boy, I thought I would surely be better off with a girl.  Since I had been a girl I would know what to do with one.   As I sat there gazing at this little miracle, I was flooded with gratitude that I had a boy, I knew that I would know exactly what to do for him, how to care for him and how to raise him.  I would know what kind of clothes to pick out and what kind of activities he would be interested in.  I just….knew.

We ended up staying in the hospital for four days.  He had jaundice, I had an infection in my stitches.  I was able to spend a lot of time with him and I insisted that they not use the ultra-violet lights on him.  I had read that those lights might be a cause of hyper-activity.  So they brought him to me and I kept him near the window and the natural light to help his blood to change as it must in newborns.

I remember there was one nurse, I don’t know her name anymore but she had and effect on me.  She was mean and rude.  She would come in and mash down on my uterus very very hard.  She said she was “kneading” it to help the swelling go down.  She said it was standard practice but I didn’t care, it hurt!  It hurt so bad that when she didn’t stop when I told her to, I punched her in the face!  I think that was the first time in my life that I actually took up for myself with someone outside of my family.  I never saw that nurse again.

I thought giving birth was the hardest thing I had ever done in my life, but it wasn’t.

When I was eighteen I had a radical surgery on my left knee, and it left me unable to move my leg at all.  All the doctors and nurses believed that I would eventually be able to lift my leg off the bed, and they said I could not go home until I could do it.  But I couldn’t.  I tried and tried but that leg would not move.  I gave up and started to become depressed.  I begged the doctor to just put a brace on my leg and let me go home.

A young nurse took pity on me and came to me with an idea.  It would be our secret.  She would place her hand under my calf and lift my leg for me, and all I had to do was try to hold it there on my own.  I found that I could do that!  At first just for a few seconds.  But she came in several times a day for two days and each time I could hold my leg up longer.  Finally she just touched me and I lifted my leg about 3 inches on my own!  We both were very excited!  The doctor came in the next morning, ( I had practiced all night) and I proudly showed him my accomplishment.  He was very pleased and said I could go home now, that physical therapy would help me do the rest and soon I would be back to running.  ( I never did get back to my jogging routine).

This in fact was the hardest thing I had ever had to do, to make that sleeping muscle awake and perform without knowing how.

Giving birth to my son, I knew that sooner or later he would arrive and it would be over.  Learning to use my leg was an unknown to me, and I think it was fear that made it so hard.

I grew up believing I would be married and a mother.  That was all I wanted, and I was so happy to be married and have this little baby.  However, when he was about two and a half, his father left us.  I was working, but all of a sudden I wasn’t making enough money.

I was plunged into the world of single parenthood.  I was completely unprepared.  My family helped with some things.  I was able to cut some expenses by doing laundry at my parent’s house, and for several months my mom watched my son while I worked.  Later, when his dad moved away, they would take my son every other weekend to give me a break.  I will always be grateful for the things my parents did for us.

It was a very hard adjustment.  Getting up earlier, no time for breakfast.  Get myself and my son clean and dressed, pack his bag and off to the sitter or daycare.  Work hard all day. I was in retail so I was on my feet all day long.  After work, pick up my son, get home and prepare us a meal that was healthy. Read to him, play with him.  Bath him, get him settled into bed.  Then a little TV for me, and soon I was asleep.  My days off were filled with errands and laundry and cleaning.  There was no one to share these daily chores with me.

In the beginning I had a sort of breakdown, became depressed but I didn’t know it.  I just felt like I was on autopilot.  I took good care of my son, but for a couple of weeks I didn’t bathe myself, I hardly ate.  When I tried to eat I would just throw it all up.   I was working in a men’s shoe store, with men.  No one said anything to me, but one day I noticed a couple of them looking at me in a funny way.  That was when I realized that I could not remember my last shower or the last time I kept any food down.  When I got home that night I took a long hot shower and fell into bed.

I woke in the middle of the night with a fever, fell back to sleep and dreamed.  I dreamed I was in a cave, in sackcloth with my hair all tangled around me , barefoot and all alone.  I woke up in the morning shaking with fever, when I tried to get out of bed I fell to the floor.  I crawled to the phone and called my mom to come and get my son.

I think she took me to the doctor as well.  I know my fever was high and there was mention of  a seizure.  I was supposed to go to a specialist at some point and be tested for seizures, but I never did.  Once I recovered, I was too busy.

Welcome to the shock of having your life plan ripped out from under you.  Welcome to the world of single parenthood.  Welcome to creating a new me.

I did heal from this, and became pretty good at the parenting thing.  There were some ups and downs, arguments with the ex over money and time spent with his son, illnesses. But there were bright times as well, and I  hold those memories close.

My son also had to adjust, I have a picture of him taken at the day care center about the time his dad left us.  He looks depressed in that picture, a sad little boy who didn’t understand what was going on in his life. By the age of nine he wasn’t doing too well without his father.  I will let him tell that story when he is ready, it is enough for me to say that he had to create a new self as well.  We had excellent help from the medical profession for him to be able to do this at such a young age.

When I was twenty-nine, again I fell into a deep depression, for no reason that I could see.  I was prescribed Prozac, it was the newest hottest drug on the market.  It did help some what, but it gave me insomnia and to help with that I was prescribed Ativan.   At the urging of a dear friend, I entered therapy.

Shortly after that, I was diagnosed as bi-polar.   The medication was changed, and I was told some awful things about my future.  I was told it was a progressive condition, that I would get worse over time.  I was told I should not work, that I should not raise my son.  I was told to let someone else raise him.

Well, I just could not accept that at all.  I believed that as long as I was in therapy perhaps I would make it.  I was too terrified of becoming homeless to quit working.  My son was the one bright spot in my day.  I couldn’t lose that.  He had already lost his father, I couldn’t put him through losing me too.

So I stayed in therapy, I took my meds  and kept going to work.  Never once did I miss a day of work due to this issue.  Some days were bad, and I would come home and throw a pot pie in the oven for supper and lay down on the couch.   I would play board games with my son, or watch him play Nintendo.   I felt like no one understood me.    I know my family tried to, but there was a lot going on there with my brother.

My closest friend was busy with new babies.  There was one friend, Steve, who did understand the depression phase, and he would come over and just sit on my couch and let me lay my head in his lap and sleep.  No words.  Just his presence.  I will always be grateful for this.

During the up times, I shopped. I mismanaged my money and my mom had to bail me out several times.  I couldn’t control it.  I thought I was doing ok.  I was paying my bills and I thought that using the credit cards was ok as long as I made the payments.  But there were more and more credit cards, then I was given an American Express card.  Well that was a different ball game.  It had to paid in full, and this is when I started asking mom for money.  In the end, I had to file bankruptcy and start over.  I really did learn to manage money then, all cash. All the time.

This is how it went for about 5 years.  Work, therapy, child rearing.  Battling the schools to pay attention to my son’s learning disability.  Managing my money, trying to date.

Being afraid.

I was afraid all the time.  I felt like there was this huge sign flashing on  my  head that said “MENTALLY ILL” in big neon letters and everyone could see it.  I believed that everyone could tell just by looking at me.

I began to withdraw.  I stopped going to church, stopped going out with friends.  Accepted that this was my life.  I was working hard at the therapy, but I still had these fears to deal with.

Then one day, I decided that enough was enough.  I was sick and tired of being sick and tired.  I was standing in my cube at work and I raised my fist toward heaven and silently screamed at God:  “You could heal this! Why don’t you! Why are you making me go through this! I don’t want it anymore and you have to do something about it!”

Almost immediately a voice, like a thought, came to me, silently.  A scripture came to my mind and it was ” As a man thinketh, so he is”.  Then that voice that was like a thought said to me, “Susan, if you want to be well, then ACT well”.     Very simple advice, I wondered why I hadn’t thought of it before.

I made some decisions that day. On my own, with no advice from anyone else.  I kept it secret, just for me.  Secret, so that if I failed, no one would know.  No one would say I told you so.   If I succeeded,  it would be mine alone.

I stopped taking the medicine.  I didn’t even tell my therapist but i did keep going to my appointments.

I worked hard at becoming what I considered normal.  I resisted my impulses and gave thought to my actions.   If someone asked me to do something and I would have said no, I would pause and think and then say yes.  When I realized I was acting out of a habit, I forced myself to do the opposite.   At first this required concentration.  After some time, it became easier and one day I was just being myself.  A new self.  I felt whole.

After about two years, I was in a therapy session and the doctor put down his pen and looked at me with this questioning look on his face.  He asked me, “Susan, what have you done?!”  I asked him what he meant.  He said he had watched me very closely for several months, and that he believed I was no longer bi-polar.  I asked him if he was sure of that.  He was, he said.  He was certain of it, but he wanted to know what I had done to bring this about because he was also sure it had nothing to do with him.  I just smiled for a while.  Then I told him what I had done with myself.

I already knew I was no longer sick, but having him affirm it, and to say out loud “you are not bi-polar” was the validation that I needed.

A new birth, once again a new me.   Was this harder than giving birth to my son, or making my leg work again?  I don’t know.  I know it was hard, but there isn’t really anything to compare it to.

Years later I learned how I was able to cure myself of the bipolar disorder.  It has to do with the neuro-pathways in your brain.  When you have a thought, it creates a pathway, and the more you think that thought, the stronger the pathway becomes.  If you stop thinking that thought and replace it with a new thought, a new pathway developes and the old pathway withers away from disuse.  But I didn’t know this, I only knew that it was up to me to make a change.

When my son was nineteen, he moved out on his own.  It was his time to make a life for himself.  It was hit and miss for awhile, but eventually he got the hang of things and got his feet on the ground.  He has a good head on his shoulders.    For me, it was empty nest time.   What was I supposed to do with myself if I wasn’t spending my time looking after my son?  I worried when he didn’t call me.  I worried when he did call me because it usually meant something was going wrong.  I talked to him and said that i needed him to call me just to say Hi, every couple of days or so.  I told him I didn’t know what to do with myself, and you know what he said?  He told me to go ahead and just live my life!  Now, that was a novel idea!

Now, I am about to be fifty-five.  I am a proud grandmother.  It is my hope that I will be able to help my grand-daughter prepare for a life that can bring anything at any moment.

Throughout the whole ordeal of being bi-polar and getting over it, I maintained my job at the same company.  I worked there for twenty-two years.   That job became a career for me, and it was a blessing as well.  I was safe there, I did my job well and I had someone there who understood what I was dealing with and protected me.

Eventually, as it always goes, the company was bought out by a larger corporation.  For seven years we all struggled with the change from being a family business to a corporate atmosphere.  One day the parent company merged our company with another and that became the beginning of the end.  All that went on during this time is another story.  I don’t know if I will write about that.  It still hurts too much.

After working there for twenty-two years, in spite of all of my accomplishments, I lost my job.  I was fifty-one years old.  That same year I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and degenerative spine disease of the lumbar.

I tried to find work, and I ended up taking a temporary assignment but due to my increasing fatigue and pain, I missed too many days and the contract was ended.

When that happened,  I started to slip into that old depression again.  I had enough severance pay saved to sustain me for a couple of years, so I just stayed in.  I gave up.  I filed for SSDI.

I stopped leaving my house except to see the doctor or run down to the 7-11.   I paid friends to clean my house and do my laundry, take out the trash and pick up my medications.  I did not leave the house if I could help it.  I paid a neighbor to take care of my yard.

My best friend would come over now and then to spend the night, giving me company and making me laugh a little.  We watched TV together.  We would splurge on fast food and cookies and ice cream.  We shared all these treats with my dog, Holly.   Holly started to get very very excited when she saw my friend drive into the driveway!

I had a another friend, Dawn, who was a licensed psychotherapist.  She lived in Missouri, and I was living in Texas.   Never the less, once a week we did therapy by phone.  She could do long distance Reiki and other types of energy healing as well as talking.  We did visualizations, reframing, past life regression.  We were trying to find the root cause of this repeated depression that haunted me.

We were never able to get there though.  Dawn passed away from multiple myeloma just a few months after she became a grandmother.  I was happy that she lived long enough to meet her grand-daughter.  I miss her very much.

By now I was taking a lot of medications.  Pain meds, muscle relaxers, antidepressants, anti-anxiety, blood-pressure, beta-blockers, pharmaceutical vitamin D, anti-inflammatories.   Nothing was really helping, and none of it was treating the fibromyalgia.

I was very much in a dark night of the soul.

I began to take more and more of the pain killers and muscle relaxers.  All I ate were cookies and chips and ice cream.  Sometimes candy.   I just wanted to sleep.  Just to sleep, that was all.

I was unable to sleep in my bed, I would wake up with bad dreams. So I slept in my recliner and this didn’t help my back.   I wasn’t sleeping well, and I guess that is why I kept taking more medication, because all I really wanted was to sleep.

Eventually, my funds got very low.  I realized I would not be able to pay the rent soon, or the bills.  After much discussion, my dad said I could stay with them until my disability was approved.  By now I had been denied twice and had hired a lawyer.  I was too sick to pack up my house.  My friends did what they could. Most of it was done by my sister, God bless her.

I loved that little house.  It was built the same year I was born.   It had a large back yard and Holly loved to roam the perimeter and roll in the grass.  She liked to lay in the sun.  My landlords were wonderful people.  The neighborhood was quite and peaceful.  There were red birds, cardinals, robins and doves.  The same squirrels took up residence in my trees and threw acorns and pecans at me.  I had great neighbors.  I didn’t want to leave.  There just wasn’t any choice.

I guess I brought about a tenth of my things to my parents house.  The rest is in storage.  I miss my books, my TV, but my parents have gone out of their way to make me comfortable.  Holly went out to the country to stay with my friend whom she loves so much, there is ample room for her to roam.  She is being well cared for and loved.  I am at peace with that.

Shortly after I moved in, my medical insurance ended.  I applied for medical assistance through the county hospital. It took a few months but I was finally accepted and managed to get an appointment with a GP a couple of weeks later.

It was wake up time!   This doctor was shocked at how much medication I  was on and that I was not in a coma!  Those are her actual words!  She switched the muscle relaxers, switched the anxiety medication, started me on a medication for the fibromyalgia, lowered the dose of my painkillers,  and upped the dose of my antidepressant.  I didn’t like these changes, however I had no choice but to go along.  I saw her once again, and then she was rotated and I was assigned a permanent doctor.

He raised the dose on the anti-depressant again, and upped the dose for my diabetes medicine and talked to me about my weight.  This was the first time ever that a doctor actually talked to me about my weight!    He referred me to the orthopedist for my back, and to the psychiatric department for the depression and anxiety.

It has taken some time but I am making headway.   The back pain isn’t any better even after a long series of injections, so I am supposed to have a more intensive procedure soon.   I am at the maximum dose for the pain killers, as well as the anti-depressant.  I am walking with the assistance of a cane.

The good news is this: I am awake again.  I am still waiting on my appeal for coverage with SSDI, but I am able to think about my future now.

I am about to be fifty-five years old.  I am wondering, what do I want to do with the rest of my life?  I know I can’t go back to work full-time or even part-time really.  My back and my fibromyalgia won’t allow that.

I love being a grandmother, and I put my heart and soul into it.

But I feel something else growing inside me. I feel a need to be creative again.  I want to write.  I have no education in writing.   I did some procedural writing when I was working.   I wrote poems as a teenager. (what teenage girl hasn’t written a love poem or two?)  I kept a journal while I was in therapy.  I have written sermons, and even delivered them at church in front of real people!

I want to write.  Here I am, starting from scratch again.   I decided to begin with a blog.  Now I am writing articles for Blogmutt and LinkedIn.   It’s nothing very grand, but I am doing what I want, I am writing.

Recreating myself, a new identity.

Once again, giving birth.

 

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Light

Tree Lady

I need to write

words won’t come near

I can’t feel the Light

that guides me here

how can I reach

or hope to teach

those who would my path draw near

The Light is here

I don’t feel but know

my mind is tired

the words won’t show

no tears no rant just solitude

I close my eyes

quiet my mood

release desire open my mind

envisioning Light and all It’s Kind

washing my soul

filling me up  making me whole

reminding me there is no fight

after all It is the Light

Susan Hudson   7/20/2014

 

Pain

God will make a way

Have you ever had an abcessed tooth?

There is an infection at the root nerve at the base of the tooth, and it kills the nerve running up into the tooth.  The process of the nerve dying is excruciating.  It causes a throbbing inside the tooth, feeling like it wants to explode but has no place to go.  It pounds the nerve against the inside of the tooth much like when you bang your head against a brick wall.  It is the worst pain ever.  I would rather have  my gall bladder out again, or give birth, than to go through this tooth pain.

This was going on this past Saturday while my granddaughter was here and it was all I could do to try to hide the pain from her.  If I put my head in my hands she would ask me if I was okay, and I just did not want her to worry about me.

I searched online for an emergency dentist, and while many said on their website that they would accommodate calls at night and on the weekend, none of them returned my call.  I did call the cell phone for my own dentist, but there was no voice mail set up.

I really did not know what I was going to do. I don’t have dental insurance now, and I don’t have any credit cards or cash on hand either.  I was hoping that whoever I could get in to see would find a way to work with me on the cost.

At about 9:15 pm when Sammie and I were settling into bed, my cell phone rang. When I answered a man said he had received a call from my number.  I stated that I had tried to reach a dentist and asked him if he was a dentist.  He said yes, he was Dr. Rodney Cook.  I was so happy!  Dr. Cook has been my dentist for over 10 years.  I expressed my happiness that he was the one to return my call on a Saturday night.  I explained my problem and he agreed to see me the next day, a Sunday!

As it turned out, the rogue tooth was in fact abscessed, and I had a choice of having it extracted, or having a root canal and crown.  I talked with him and his office manager about my financial situation and they agreed to work with me, to let me pay it out as I was able.  Since they were going to allow me to pay it out, I wanted to save the tooth so I opted for the root canal and crown.  What a blessing!

He prescribed some antibiotics to reduce the infection and set me up to come back a week from Monday for the procedure.  Well this presented me with a new problem.

Since I have no medical insurance, I get my medications through the county hospital at a reduced rate, but they will only fill prescriptions from their own doctors.  So, I could go ahead and pay full retail or I could all my primary care physician and ask him to call it in for me. However, that would take all day, and I wouldn’t get the medicine until the next day, and I needed to start it immediately so that the infection did not spread.

Infections in your mouth can rapidly spread to your bloodstream and enter the heart.  It is very dangerous and requires immediate intervention to protect the heart.

Well, I called three pharmacies that Sunday to get a quote on the medication.  The retail price was $170.00 for the name brand, and the cheapest I could find was at Wal-Mart for the generic at $45.00.  The problem was I just didn’t have the money.

I do get some of my meds at Kroger, and I have a medical discount card on file with them, it’s just that they were not open on Sunday.  But on Monday morning I called, and they quoted me $43.00 for the generic, before my discount.  They said they couldn’t give me the discount price without actually applying the prescription in the computer.

Dad forked over the $43.00 and I hopped in the car and headed for Kroger.  Guess what??  The price after the discount came to $19.99!  I was so happy and relieved!

I started taking it right away, and it is supposed to reduce the pain as it diminishes the infection.  However, today is Wednesday and I am still having pain, on and off.

I did some research on home remedies for tooth pain and found lots of information.  I finally decided on a course of action that involved rinsing my mouth with hydrogen peroxide, then rinsing with Robitussin DM, then applying Sensodyne toothpaste right to the tooth and the gum.  I place a rolled up gauze pad between my cheek and the tooth to hold some of the toothpaste in place.  Then I took 2 Advil and 2 extra strength Tylenol.  At last, I was able to sleep.  For four hours.  Then the pain was back, so I repeated the process only this time I cut up one of my Lidocaine pain patches ( which I use for my back) and placed a strip along my jaw line.   This helped a lot, and the pain stayed under control for several hours.

Right now, I am not feeling anything, but I have to eat soft food so as not to bite down on that tooth.  If I do bite down on it, it will zing me pretty harshly.  I just need to get through the next 4 days, then the root canal will take place and the pain will be gone for good.

I can not express deeply enough my gratitude for Dr. Cook, and his willingness to help me out during this rough time in my life.  He is a good and dear man, very gentle and caring.

I have another chipped tooth, and believe me, I am going to have him look at it as well.  I do not want to go through this drama again!

Please read and take note, I am sharing this to help others avoid the same nasty experience!

Brush twice a day, floss often!  If you feel a sharp edge on a tooth that was normally smooth, get right in to the dentist.  A lost filling or a cracked and chipped edge will fracture and decay will set in, and once it hits the root of the tooth, you are in for a world of pain like you have never experienced.   You will fork over your life savings without batting an eye to get rid of that pain!

Sammie’s sense of Self

7-11-14 princess dress

Sammie is trying to find her identity.   She came to visit this weekend, and went to the grocery store with me.   On the way back to the house, I told her she was my special girl.  She replied that she wasn’t special.  I told her yes you are, you are very special to me, you are my Sammie Girl.  She said, “I am not Sammie, I am Samantha Daniel.”

Daniel means Danielle, her name is Samantha Danielle Yates, but she hasn’t gotten a grip on the pronunciation yet.

She only wants to wear dresses.  No shorts or pants, only dresses.  And sparkly shoes, or pretty sandals.

We had a talk about her name.  Her great-grandmother had given her a new doll this weekend, and she was having trouble picking a name for her.  I asked her if she knew how her mommy and daddy had chosen her name, and she said she did not.

So I told her how they had struggled over picking a name for their new baby while she was growing inside mommy.  They knew they were going to have a girl, and just could not decide on a name.  So I told her daddy to ask the baby who was inside mommy to tell him what her name was, and to then put his ear on mommy’s belly and listen to what the baby said.  So he did that, and the baby said “My name is Samantha”.

Sammie’s face lit up and she said “That was me?”   And I said, ” Yes that was you sweetie!”.

Then I said, “Why don’t you ask this doll what her name is, then you won’t have to try to hard to pick a name for her.”    Samantha looked at the pretty doll with pink streaks in her hair and said “What is your name?”   Then she said in a soft but high-pitched voice ” My name is Shorty!”

She looked at me with this big smile on her face, and I smiled back at her.  I said ” See that?  Her name is Shorty, and that is what we will call her”.   Problem solved.

I find it interesting how Samantha believes almost everything I tell her, then finds her own way to make it true.  Somehow she knew that this doll was not as real as a baby human, so it would not really answer her.  She somehow tuned in to what she really wanted the name to be and then pretended that the doll was answering her question.

She isn’t 3 years old anymore, she is 3 1/2 and there is a big difference!

She spent a lot of energy letting me know that she wasn’t mine, that she belongs to her mother, that she only sleeps with her mother, that she only cuddles with her mother.  She says this to anyone who tries to claim her or cuddle her.  Even her dad.

But, when night came, she happily climbed into my bed and when we were done reading and talking and eating a bedtime snack and finally turned out the light, she rolled herself right up next to me and stayed there all night.

Yep, she is mine, my own grand-daughter and she knows this is true, and I will treasure every cuddle I can get out of her!

Talk given 4-27-14 -Peace Be With You -Second Sunday of Easter John 20:19-31

stain glass peace

Today is the second Sunday of Easter. It is a time to reflect on what the resurrection of Jesus means to us as individuals
and as a church body. The body of Christ on earth. When have you had an Easter experience in your life?

When I went to Congregational Leaders Workshop at Graceland University a few years ago, I took a class on healing ministries. This was a very untraditional class, I learned a lot about the energy present in each of us, the energy of the Holy Spirit and how to focus these energies on healing. As each day went by and my knowledge increased, the more I felt and believed in the connectedness of all creation.

I noticed as I was walking through the campus that people were smiling at me, and then I realized they were smiling BACK at me,
because I was walking around with a big smile on my face!
I could feel the energy emanating from me. The power of the Holy Spirit was with me as I learned and grew and practiced, and it could be seen and felt by others!

As time went by and I continued to practice the healing arts I had learned, and to focus on the path of Jesus in my life, I began to feel and understand His love for me and for everyone on the planet.

This love has become an integral part of my ministry. This type of love is the energy of the Holy Spirit, the energy that heals both mind and body. It is the energy that brings the wellness of the peace of Jesus into our lives.

I began to understand that the primary function in my calling to serve Christ and the church through priesthood is to affirm that love and peace.
Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves you!

I have been teaching my granddaughter Samantha about Jesus.
I sing to her the song Jesus Loves Me, and also Jesus Loves the Little Children. I read her story books about the life of Jesus.

One day when she was visiting me, we were in the living room and I said to her ,” grandma loves you Sammie, and so does Jesus!”
And she stood there and said loudly, “Yes! Jesus loves me! Jesus LOVES ME!” She is getting the message.
Do you get the message?
Do you believe?
Please everyone stand up for a minute.
Thank you,
now shout it out with me,
JESUS LOVES ME!
RAISE YOUR HANDS AND SHOUT IT TO THE WORLD,
JESUS LOVES ME!

Read John 20:19-31
This scripture describes for us what that first Easter was like for
those first Apostles. In this scripture are signs that Jesus gave
to show the Apostles that he really is who he said he was, their Lord. He greeted them with peace, he showed them his scars,
he gave them a mission that was the continuation of his mission.

He breathed on them, giving them the Holy Spirit to be with them,
as he had promised.

He returned again when Thomas was present so that Thomas would have the chance to believe as well, like the shepherd who goes after the one lost sheep.

Oh! He appeared to them with the doors shut! Who can do that?
He revealed himself so completely that Thomas recognized God in Jesus, as is stated in other scriptures.

John chapter 14 verses 8-10 teaches us: “Phillip said unto him, show us the Father and it will suffice me. Jesus said until him, Have I been so long a time with you, and yet have you not known me Phillip? He that has seen me has seen the father, so how do you say now show us the Father? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I speak unto you are not of myself, but of the Father that dwells in me, He does the work.”

John chapter one teaches us that “in the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God, and the Word was God, and through Him all things were created.”

The use of the word “Word” with a capital W is a metaphor for Jesus. It is teaching us that Jesus and God are one. This is what Thomas recognized when it became clear to him just who was standing before him. Jesus blessed Thomas for believing what he was seeing, then Jesus blessed all those who had not seen what Thomas had seen, but believed anyway.

He has put his blessing on our faith, because of our faith he has blessed us with gifts of the Spirit, calm in the storms, peace in our souls. And so much more. He promised that with the Holy Spirit, He would be with us always.

There was another time in my life…Looking at that time now, I can see that even though I had an Easter experience years before, once again I was feeling cut off, separated, abandoned. Broken. Like Thomas, I doubted Jesus was with me. But he was with me, in the form of the friends and family and church family who reached out to take care of me. I am truly… truly humbled and grateful, that even in my forgetfulness and disbelief, Jesus was there to love and heal me. This is the Resurrection in action for me in my life, that he felt MY suffering while on that cross, because Jesus overcame death and lives, I can fall down and be lifted up
again and again. My renewed faith that Jesus is always with me
was rewarded by the knowledge that He is indeed with me at all times. This was a true awakening for me.

It is part of my personal Easter story…that He lives! He lives in me! I hope that you can see that this is true in your lives as well.

Today’s theme is “peace be with you”. At the beginning of the service we sang Peace, Salaam, Shalom. Did any of you know that there is more to Shalom than peace?

True shalom means reconciliation, justice, responsibility, love, inclusion, completeness, wholeness, the breaking down of ethnic and social boundaries, for the world as well as within each person. For everyone and the earth, a physical and spiritual peace.

The Shalom of Jesus’ ministry was lived out in his life, death, and resurrection. I admit I only understand part of this. For me there is a mystery here. But I trust that as I keep going along the path that I am on, all things will be made clear.

John chapter 14 verse 27 reads:” Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you, not as the world gives, give I unto you.
Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

I think this verse touches on the full and true meaning of Shalom.
When we use the english word Peace, let it mean Shalom. All of it’s meanings are reflected In the Community of Christ Basic Beliefs.

Doctrine and Covenants section 164 9b says:
9b. When your willingness to live in sacred community as Christ’s new creation exceeds your natural fear of spiritual and relational transformation, you will become who you are called to be. The rise of Zion the beautiful, the peaceful reign of Christ, awaits your whole-hearted response to the call to make and steadfastly hold to God’s covenant of peace in Jesus Christ.

Will you accept… that Jesus loves you?
Will you accept… that Jesus loves all people?
Will you accept… that Jesus has given you peace not as the world gives, but as He gives?
Will you accept… that He has blessed your faith with the gift of the Holy Spirit to move in and through your life?
Will you accept… His call to bring His peace to the world?
He loves you, each one of you, and accepting this call is our response to this great love.
It is meant to be.
And now,
Peace be unto you all.

 

Hear and Understand

stain glass peace

Hear and Understand – a talk given at Burleson TX Community of Christ July 12, 2014

Read the story. Matthew 13:1-7, 18-21
( funny how today is the 13th and our lesson is from Matt chap. 13)

Why did Jesus teach in parables?
To get one to Hear and understand. To get one to think about the meaning of his words and how they relate to our lives. What kind of ground is good for seeds and do we need to worry about it? In the garden yes, but what about spiritually? Yes we do, because the seed will only take root in good soil,

read verse 7 again.

Spiritually speaking, what is Good soil? Those who hunger for God, those who want to serve others, children, those brought up with an understanding of scripture and the promises of God.
What about those who are hungry for food and shelter and alone? Are they good soil too?

I am not judging anyone’s ability to understand. But I am using certain terms for examples
and based on my personal experience with people in particular groups.

Skeptics, those who require scientific proof before they will believe anything, even knowing that in the past people have believed things to be true that were not already proven but were later proven, these are like the seeds who fell by the wayside:  read verse 18 again.

What about agnostics, atheists ? These groups of people are like the seeds thrown onto stony and thorny places: read verses 19 and 20 again.  From my experience, these are people who have been hurt by the church and/or Christians.  Hypocrisy is like stony and thorny ground that chokes the seed that once sprouted.

I had a good opportunity to plant a good seed about Jesus with my son, but I feel I failed to do it well.I had many things on my plate. I was slowly developing a mental illness, and being a single parent, it was all I could do to work and keep house and make sure he got the education he needed.

Looking back I could say that during the times we spent together in playing games I could have taught him more about Jesus and the Holy Spirit, but by the end of each work day, my mind was a fog.

My parents tried to help, they did take him to church and to camps, and he did learn some things, but because of some childhood traumas he has forgot some of the things he learned
and now questions all that we tried to teach him.

It’s a good thing to question everything, but he is raising his own child now and I so wish he had the spiritual assurity to be able to pass on to his daughter the things that my parents passed on to me and to him.

But I know we have a good and close relationship, and when he is of a mind to think about the workings of the universe, he will call me or my dad, depending on the topic, for a sounding board or for our opinion or some answer we might have.

Because of this I have faith that he is good soil, and he does have a root, and he will come back to the things he was taught.

Meanwhile I am grateful that he lets me teach Samantha about Jesus, and bring her to church.
Both of her grandmothers love the Lord, so she is getting an education from both sides of the family. Who knows, maybe it is going to be her job to lead her father back into the fold.

Sammie is receptive. Children are receptive and perhaps able to see what we can’t and hear what we can’t, like angels.Very young children have not forgotten where they came from.
Sammie tells me that she comes from the stars.

We also know that scripture tells us that the Holy Spirit wrestles with man, although we are told she will not continue to do so and one day will cease to do this.

But as long as that day has not come, there is still hope.The key is to develop and maintain a personal relationship, after all, that is what Jesus wants us to have with him. Keeping the relationships building and growing, leaves the door open for a seed to be planted.

Indeed just by doing this the seed is planted as a person watches how we live our lives and how we accept them for who they are, right then and as they grow, without judgement.

So we need to be on our toes, keep our own hearts open to Jesus and the Holy Spirit, become grounded in scripture, especially the words of council received in our faith movement.

LISTEN AND UNDERSTAND what we are being told!

Planting a seed is done when we work to ABOLISH POVERTY AND END SUFFERING.

Planting a seed is done when we work to DRAW THE CIRCLE WIDER,

BRINGING INTO OUR MIDST THE MARGINALIZED and DISCRIMINATED.

Planting a seed is done when we say and mean ALL ARE WELCOME AT THIS TABLE.

Planting a seed is done in RANDOM ACTS OF KINDNESS AND ALSO INTENTIONAL ACTS OF KINDNESS!

Planting a seed is done when we are watched by others as we work to heal the EARTH.

Planting a seed is done when we teach our children and grandchildren about Jesus,
and teach them that they are created in the image of the Divine, that they have that spark of Divine within them,

Planting a seed is done when we include the children in the work of teaching. When we listen to them and understand what we are being taught by them.

In the children lies our future and hope.

Be a planter,
sow a seed,
and teach a child how to do the same.

Basic Needs, SNAP and WIC – Don’t Judge

Lighthouse

I hate to admit it, but I am receiving SNAP benefits, and when I go to the store, I swipe that card as fast as I can and jam it back in my purse. This comes from the time I was first married and had a newborn, my husband was in the Coast Guard and our entire income was 400.00 a month. This was 1979. The Coast Guard paid the rent and basic utilities, but that 400 did not stretch enough to cover the phone, the rent on our color TV, yes I said rent( we gave it up after a month), the food, baby items, gasoline, etc. So we went on WIC and Food stamps.

Back then the food stamps were coupons and you had sign each one as you used it, so it took time at the checkout and there was always some wise-ass behind me making cracks about free food.

I had to borrow a neighbors car to get the groceries and I went to three different locations each week to get all the best deals. Those programs kept us from starving, but it was emotionally damaging to have to go through all that judgement.

I guess I have never gotten over it.

Then when my husband left me, and I became a working mom, I was fortunate enough to have jobs that paid well. Sometimes I took in a roommate, but not often. I very seldom received child support, but I did get my son raised and on his feet, I even provided him with a car.

THEN, 4 years ago I lost my job of 22 years. I had enough saved and along with the unemployment that lasted me 3 years. I was never able to find a job before I became unable to work at all, and plummeted into a profound depression. That is when my parents and sister packed up my things for storage and at 54 years old I moved in with my parents.

It felt like I had lost every thing. Pretty much. My car is paid for so I didn’t lose that. I was renting my house, so that was not a problem, and I had used my severance pay to pay off all the credit card debt.

When I moved in with my parents I had a little money left, but that’s gone now. My son pays for my medication and doctor bills, and I have applied for social security. And again, once again, I had to apply for food stamps, or SNAP as its now called. Thank God it is a debit card thing and not the stupid paper coupons you had to sign at the register!

BUT, things are looking up, I am able to work about 10 hours a week, so I am selling AVON to make a little money while I wait on the SS appeal, and today, I was able to finally open a new checking account. There is hardly anything in it, but it is open and it is mine.

So yeah, I relate to the many people in this country receiving WIC and SNAP. It is painful when others make judgements and assumptions and then express those opinions out loud when a person like myself is at the check out register. I don’t believe that anyone is taking advantage of this system. The application process is very detailed so it’s pretty hard to fake it.

If you have a problem with people who are down and out taking advantage of the benefits designed to help them out of the dark black hole, please keep it to yourself! You might be one of us some day, you never know.