Sunday, October 06, 2013

My Encounter with John 4 - The Woman at the Well

I've been working my way through Dale Bruner's commentary on the Gospel of John and earlier this summer I focused on John 4.  I've always liked the story of the Samaritan Woman at the Well and although for different reasons, I very much related to her feelings of weariness and isolation and her sadness over events resulting in rejection.

As much as I liked her in the story, however, I felt like Jesus was kind of mean to her.  I'm not sure what propelled me, but I decided to rewrite the story from her perspective as if I lived the story and had this encounter with Jesus.  It has completely changed my perception of Jesus in this story and I'm grateful.  Here is my adaptation.

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

Part 1 - An Unexpected Conversation
Part 2 - A Disarming Revelation
Part 3 - A Winsome Invitation

A Winsome Invitation (Part 3 - Adapted from John 4)

When I looked at him I saw something I've never seen before.  I can't quite put my finger on it, but a purity of sorts.  Not specifically sexual, but something much more.  A purity of thought, purity of expression, purity of words.  A purity of alignment.  Somehow everything seemed to line up with everything else.  No contradictions, no pretension, no hiding, no false presentation, no spinning.  His actions, his expressions, his words, his movement, his speech pattern.  Even the way he closed his eyes.  Authenticity is the word that comes to mind.

Just as he quietly spoke those stunning words, "I am He," a group of men walked up.  The moment evaporated and the purity disappeared.  Although they said nothing to me, it was obvious by their expressions that they did not associate with my people, let alone a woman with my past.

They clearly knew this man and, thankfully, taking their cues from him they held their tongues.  However, they did not hide their looks.  Were they embarrassed that their leader spoke to me?  Why on earth would he talk with me?  They probably wondered what I wanted from him.  They wouldn't know that he was the one who started the conversation not me.  That he asked me for a drink not the other way around.

On the other hand, maybe they sensed something important occurred?  I don't know, but I quickly turned without saying goodbye or saying what my heart wanted to say.  "Thank you for respecting me and affirming me.  Thank you for listening to me and hearing the words behind my words."

As I walked home the whole conversation replayed again through my mind.  This tired man sitting beside the well when I arrive.  Him asking me for a drink.  Me surprised at his acknowledgement as well as his words.  My shock and slightly edgy response.  His offer of something called Living Water.  His first clue of his true identity.  His invitation to ask for this Quenching and to ask for this Living Satisfaction.

Didn't he say something about never thirsting again?  I desire to be satisfied, to be truly satisfied; and for deep desires to be quieted so they won't rage.  The thing is lost hopes, lost dreams, disappointments, rejection, they always leave an empty place.  Abandoned now, but still known.  Still very much known.  Each new thing has promise.  Each new relationship a focus and a hope for a future.  Yet each eventually disintegrates.  Each one somehow twists into something else.  What initially piqued interest now brings anger.  Not wanting to cling too tightly somehow I still do.  I look for signs.  I look for clues of loosening commitment and for waning interest.  I clutch tighter and tighter trying to control things out of my control.

I always give my heart to each one thinking it will work this time.  I turn over the reins, my hopes, my future, my plans and then it all evaporates.  The reins get twisted and I'm left broken with mounds of unmet needs, confusion, dissatisfaction, and thirst...deep, deep thirst.

Had I inadvertently set each up to fail?  In all honesty were they ever really capable of delivering what I needed?  Is it even possible for a person, a job, a child, a goal to satisfy everything?  Maybe some part of that everything, but I see now a big gulf between their ability and my heartfelt need and desire.

Was his offer of Living Water meant to meet this deep need?  Was his offer to care for my abandoned and broken heart?

you, my beloved, 
are worthy of My love

And I AM 
worthy of your heart.

These words came to mind from out of nowhere.  They reduce me to tears wooing and disarming me. What does it mean for GOD to say he is WORTHY of MY heart.  If He truly is God it seems He bows quite low when He says them.

Something about letting those words settle over me brought a quiet.  I now understand.  He is and had always been the only one who could fully care for my heart.  Not only care for it, but truly honored to be asked.  To all others it is a burden.  Disappointment was always and would always be the end.  It couldn't be any other way.

I realized I never did get that drink he offered.  Though in truth something shifted inside.  No longer is my deep need a home for shame.  For the first time I feel honored and cherished.

Maybe that remarkable man and brilliant prophet really is who is says he is.  Maybe, just maybe, he really is the Messiah after all.

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

Part 1 - An Unexpected Conversation
Part 2 - A Disarming Revelation
Part 3 - A Winsome Invitation

A Disarming Revelation (Part 2 - Adapted from John 4)

I came to the well this morning much defeated and dispirited.  I didn't expect to see anyone.  I went alone on purpose at a time when no one else goes.  It is always very hot at noon, but in the end it is easiest.  Yes, I do want this water he spoke of and to never thirst again.  But especially to never have to visit this well again.

I think he must have seen my expression change and caught a glimpse of my sadness.  It felt like his face softened.  Once again his words were completely unexpected.  He asked me to go get my husband.

Jeesh!  The thing is I've been married five times and I'm done with it.  I'm with a guy now but making no plans for a sixth husband.  I don't even want to get into this.  Lots of pain, lots of complication, miles of hard road.  Cycles of destruction and rejection.  I would just rather not talk about this.

I grabbed my water jug so I could leave, not to "go get my husband" but to evade the engulfing shame I've been hoping to escape.  Up to this point I'd held nothing back so my answer was short just that I didn't have a husband.

It wasn't a lie, but not the full story either.

Get this!!  It's like he read my thoughts.  He brought up that I'd had five husbands and now with someone who's not my husband.  How did he know that?

And then you won't believe what he did next.  He affirmed me!  He affirmed that I spoke truthfully.  I cannot explain what his affirmation did...deep, deep down in a long ago devastated place.  The disappointments deep, but somehow I have...not even sure the words...somehow I just keep going but it's not without a cost.

I told him he must be a prophet and then something came to mind that I'd always wondered about.  More truthfully, though, I really just needed to change the subject or I knew I'd fall apart right there, right then, right in front of him.

I asked about worshiping and why his people are so adamant about worshipping in Jerusalem.  They say it is the absolute place we must go.  It's always bothered me because the thing is my people are certainly not welcome's a catch twenty-two really.

Again his answer took the conversation to a whole other plane.  He talked of a time when worship would be in neither place, not there and not here either, and he mentioned bowing before "The Father".  He said my people didn't really understand what we worshipped.  In actuality I understood these words because my people have a long history of putting our trust in many different things.  Pledging our allegiance only to be disappointed by their silence.

He said a time was coming and actually spoke of it as present...a NOW moment when true worshipers would be worshiping this Father by Spirit and Truth.  He said that the Father is actually seeking people that want to know him, who are drawn toward him, and want to surrender to him.  He mentioned this Spirit and Truth again, that they were needed to worship the Father...honestly all very confusing to me.

This man, this prophet; he is like no other.  Like no one I've ever met before. What he said is amazing.  So full of mystery and totally beyond my thoughts and imagination. He spoke of things that hopefully one day the Messiah will explain.   He is coming one day at least that is what I'm supposed to believe.

I wonder what it might be like if or when the Messiah comes.  I wonder what he will look like and how he'll act.  Certainly he will be strong, smart, a warrior, coming as a long awaited king.  I'm certain though he won't visit our town.  Speaking more to myself I said aloud, "You know the Messiah will come one day and will explain everything to us."  I gathered my jar and began drawing his water.

Then he quietly said with this amazing inner strength, "I am He, I, the man talking with you."

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

Part 1 - An Unexpected Conversation
Part 2 - A Disarming Revelation
Part 3 - A Winsome Invitation

An Unexpected Conversation (Part 1 - Adapted from John 4)

Today this man asked me for a drink of water.  He was sitting alone resting apparently weary from his walk.  Taken aback by his request and because I was lonely and a bit angry I snidely said,

"Why would you ask me for a drink when most people like you want nothing to do with people like me?"

I expected him to ignore me or give me a dirty look, or worse yell at me.  But he did none of that and maybe even flashed a tiny smile.  Instead of pulling away he seemed to invite me to more conversation.  While looking down and with a slight lilt in his voice he said, "If you knew the free gift of God and who is asking you for a drink, you would have asked him for Living Water and he would have given it to you."

How strange of him to talk in third person.  That was certainly not the answer I expected.  Him now offering me water.  He turned the tables a bit.  That's kinda funny.  Such a nice man and so respectful.  It'd been a long time since someone treated me like that.

Strange thing though, he didn't even have a bucket to draw water and where would he get this water.  Living Water is what he called it.  What on earth is Living Water anyway?  Made me wonder if he thought he was better than my ancestor who gave us this well.  He and all his children and all their flocks drank from here.

So I told him exactly what I was thinking.  I thought he might get angry, but he didn't.  He actually said something pretty bizarre and actually a little bit weird.

Pointing to my well he said, "The people who drink from this well will thirst again.  Your ancestor was thirsty and you will certainly thirst again...BUT," and then he pointed to himself, "anyone including you who drinks, who once drinks the water I give, they will never thirst again.  In fact and THIS is the awesome part," at that point he was smiling so brightly and so excited,  "the water I give, and I will give it, in that person it will become a Fountain of Water.

"This water, this Living Water, will gush up...come gushing up into deep," and I swear he looked deep into my soul, "deep lasting...Life."

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

Part 1 - An Unexpected Conversation
Part 2 - A Disarming Revelation
Part 3 - A Winsome Invitation

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Molly's Five Favorites

Molly's health took a turn about a month ago.   I suspect the issue (failing kidneys) has been slowly manifesting, but recently tipped the scales.  I keep thinking NOT NOW!  NOT THIS YEAR!  IT'S TOO, TOO MUCH.

With the gracious and expert care of our beloved Vet we've been given a reprieve and she's still with us.  Saline injections every other day, but she's still here.  She's skinny and still a creep at times (one of my nicknames for her).  My husband, B, reminds me that her feistiness is a good thing and likely means she's feeling better.  This is her normal.

A few days after she came home from the clinic.
It was a Wednesday evening when I took her to emergency care. The next morning B transferred her to our Vet Clinic where she stayed for a week. I visited her everyday except Sunday. They let me have a room and we got to talk and hug for awhile. Well maybe not hug since she's not really a huggy cat, but I know she was glad to see me and to hear me.  And I was glad to caress her, to put my head against hers, and to look into her beautiful eyes.

A friend recently wrote something on her Facebook page that I've decided to take to heart.  Several years ago her favorite vet spoke some advice when she was dealing with an aging pet.  The advice was to create "My Aging Pet's Top Five Favorites".  When these favorite things become impossible or no longer enjoyed, then it's probably time to make some decisions.  So she and her beloved dog sat down together and made their list.

Tonight Molly and I made her list.

I'll watch for when she's struggling.  I know it's not today, but today I need this list to help me cherish the time we still have and to minimize the pre-grief that steals today.  I know we're in the bonus round and we still have good days ahead for us.  Hopefully weeks and maybe a month or maybe months.

So, Molly, here are your favorites and I'm going to promise to enjoy them with you.
  • Jumping on the kitchen table to eat TREATS with the dogs
  • Sleeping right next to my computer 
  • Batting at Grace on the opposite side of the baby gate 
  • Stealing Calvin's better tasting food*
  • Shredding paper while I'm trying to pay bills

* Item four is what inspired this post.  She hates her new KD food.  HATES, HATES, HATES!  We tried a new food yesterday and she liked it for about one and a half meals.  BUT she LOVES Calvin's food which is formulated exactly opposite of what she needs now.  We are hopefully going to try a new food tomorrow.  Hoping she'll like that one.  Not too many other options left.   If the choice is between starving her or Calvin's food which exacerbates her issues, I know what choice I'll make but gosh it's a shitty choice.  

Friday, September 06, 2013

Every note matters

Earlier this summer my new violin teacher said something that stuck with me.  I liked the words and also the feeling that this might just be a life lesson, too.

"Every note matters and we treat each one with love."  


Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Gratitude in a view

Last night my dad was in one of my dreams.  I didn't get to talk to him or anything.

Yesterday marked his three month's passing.

I don't always understand when dreams have meaning or if they always have a meaning every time.

I just know that last night it was really good to see my dad.

I know my Dad was really proud of me and today I'm glad I remembered this.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Grief's Seeds

Feeling kinda sad today.  The reality of Dad's death more real every day...more papers to sign, written correspondence with words "Frank J Holliday - Deceased".  I know it's all part of the process.

I'm cherishing these feelings of grief.  Right now they feel pure and bring healing.  The wounds still so tender.

I ran across this card from a dear college friend that made me cry when I first read it.  Today it reminds me of hope.  Thanks sweet friend!!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

High Dives

Well I took the plunge.  I now have my very own fiddle.  Sweet husband's gift for our 25th anniversary (Can't believe it!!)  Late last year we thought about taking a sailing trip out in Seattle, but around Christmas we decided not to go.  B's dad's health had declined, the scare with Mom in early December, and with Dad's rapidly declining health we thought it too risky to be away for very long.  We'll have another chance to celebrate with a fun getaway at a later date, so we decided instruments would be the gifts:  my fiddle and his small body 1956 LG2 Gibson.  Woohoo!!

Now the reason for the subject line.  My fiddle arrived last Friday about an hour before my lesson. We anxiously awaited all day long and when it finally arrived I was beside myself with excitement.  It's so beautiful and sounded gorgeous even out of tune.

My husband came with me to my lesson (he takes lessons from the same guy).  Not sure what happened, but it was the HARDEST damn lesson to date.  My teacher taught me a new song, Soldier's Joy.  I'd never heard the song before and had no frame of reference for the tune.  By the end I was exhausted and discouraged though I didn't do half bad...well maybe half bad, but I did have a few decent moments.  :)

That night I couldn't sleep.  I woke up trying to remember the song and trying to remember the finger patterns.  I was so in knots that I pulled out my iTouch and located a YouTube video of the song, just so I could remember the tune.  Not a restful night.  I practiced about a hour on Saturday without the bow just plucking my way through the fingering and two hours on Sunday with the bow.

I know this sounds strange, but I realized later that evening that I was really mad at my teacher.  On the way to work on Monday I realized why.  I felt like the lesson on Friday was like learning to diving off the high dive for the first time.  Scared to death, really hard and my teacher wouldn't let me quit.  Walking out to the end of the board only to turn around and walk back a few steps and maybe even a few times turning tail and walking back down a few stairs.  That said, I never went all of the way down.  I dived several times and did a few belly flops in the process.  Ouch!!

The thing is something about diving off the high dive is so exhilarating and worth the pain.   I remember this exact experience as a little girl (sans belly flop) finally getting enough courage to dive off the high dive.

So, I'm sticking with this fiddle thing even though it is SO hard, makes me feel so vulnerable and gives my perfectionistic voice a real talkin' too.  It's stretching me, stretching my thinking.  Try combining bow movements while moving fingers while thinking about slurring notes, going down with the bow while going up the scale with the fingers, all the while trying to stay in tune and balancing the bow not gripping, while...see what I mean?  belly flop...

But she is gorgeous and calling to me.  :)

Monday, May 27, 2013


I've been wanting to post something to the blog.  Over the last several weeks I've started three different posts but nothing is coming together.  I'm wanting to share about my experience reading my story in the OKC Listen To Your Mother show and also about Dad's memorial service and what it meant to me.  I'm getting stuck and discouragement is setting in.  So I'm just going to post some things I've written lately in my journal.


Trying to make sense of the massive tornadoes (if that is even possible) and the immense destruction in my adopted home state of Oklahoma along with the reality of losing my parents over these last three months.  This is like nothing I've experienced before, though I'm coming to realize that sorrow and sadness live beside the normal living.  Intertwining much like a labyrinth.  Two paths sometimes very close and sometimes very far away.  If I were to blog I would write how grief pierces.

It pains...
It hurts...

Sometimes unexpectedly like realizing  Mom and Dad wouldn't be calling on Monday after the tornado to see if we were okay.  No more check-ins with Mom and Dad.

Sorrow pierces deeply...

As the number of days grows since they breathed their last, the grief is stronger and deeper.  Maybe this will change at some point.  I don't know.  I just know that today with all of this destruction in my adopted state with people loosing all their possessions and in some cases their beloveds...the grief pierces.

I feel out of control.  No that is not right.  With Mom and Dad gone and the fragility of life before my eyes, I feel unmoored like a ship at sea maybe even a little bit lost.  The thing is I don't have some of my grounding voices.  I feel vulnerable in a way I've never experienced before.

~ * ~ 

"My heart is big and sore"...  Brad spoke these words to me in the early days of my Dad's death...a Patty Griffin lyric.  It captures my experience.  With tears in my eyes and snot running out my nose, I wonder and feel like I can't do this.  Why did they have to go now?  Why both within three months of each other?  Don't we still need our parents?  Don't we still need to have someone coach us, guide us and let us know we will be okay and that it will be okay?

I miss them a lot today.  I'm going to cherish this missing and embrace it today.  Quite unexpectedly sweet memories came back to me the other night triggered by couples dancing at a benefit concert for the tornado recovery.  I remember their smiles.  Their connection.  Their faces.  How they placed their hands in each others while they danced.  They were so cute.  I remember Dad's feet, his cowboy boots...gracefully sliding across the floor leading and guiding.  Mom's feet following, lightly sliding across the floor with beauty.  Her beautiful frilly orange square dance dress.

My first day back at work two days after Dad's service, I heard his voice of encouragement in my heart...the importance of getting back to a regular routine.  I remembered him and felt like he was with me that first day back to work.

From my Dad's co-workers
(click to see details)
Last Monday when driving home from work after the tornado, I again felt his words of encouragement.  On an unfamiliar road I could hear his voice to keep going.  I knew where I'd traveled from my starting point and although I was on an obscure tiny road, I still knew where I needed to end up.  I knew how to keep track while driving.  When I was a little girl while taking trips I'd ask Dad if we were traveling east, west, south, north, etc.  He prepared me.  He gave me tools.  I knew how to get home from an unfamiliar place.

So today this is my encouragement.  This is an unfamiliar place and scary at times, but I have tools.  I have preparation.

Also, I don't have to do this alone.  I have community around me.  We all do and it is okay to lean on that in these times.  So today in my sorrow and sadness I will remember I can get through this.  Strength sometimes looks like weakness and fear, and sometimes strength comes out of weakness and fear.

And that is OK.  Blessings to my sweet state of Oklahoma. 

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

"Our Pink Buddies" - Listen To Your Mother - OKC

Here is my piece I read at Listen To Your Mother - Oklahoma City (LTYM-OKC) on Sunday.  I am blessed beyond measure.  This experience has been both a balm and an oasis in my grief for my Mom and now for my Dad.  I'm so, so, so grateful that my friend, Misti, encouraged me to submit a story just a few weeks after Mom died while my grief still raw.  Little did I know my dad would pass away just 12 weeks later during the week between our rehearsal and the show.  My sisters encouraged me to stay in Oklahoma and read my story to honor both my Mom and my Dad.  I couldn't have done it without knowing they were with me in spirit.  As I approached the podium I paused and thought about them being on my right and on my left.  I love you SO much sisters!!!

Our Pink Buddies
by Lisa Raley

Things my mom touched, folded, wore; they mean much more to me now knowing her fingers held these things.  My sister recently sent a few small, silly things.  Each item brings tears.  Her beautiful pink fingernail polish, some lipstick, note cards, her favorite blue pens.

The other day I ran across a note from my mom written about a year ago.  I‘d sent her some recent blog posts about our dogs and mentioned I was taking a writing class.  She enclosed an especially meaningful picture of two foxes in a winter scene snuggled up close to one another. Her note said:
Hi Lisa - The enclosed picture from this week's Time magazine reminded me so much of you and your pets.  Somehow it really clicked with me and I wanted you to see it.  I'm so glad you are taking the writing class.  You get and give so much by sharing your thoughts.  
She ended the note "You are much loved, Lisa," signed it "Mom" with a big blue smiley face from one of her blue pens, something she always did when closing letters.

I planned a trip to visit my parents at the end of January.  I flew out on a Thursday morning and while on the shuttle up from the airport, my sister called with news that Mom fell.  We soon learned she broke her hip.

The weekend before my trip I happened to buy several stuffed animals.  I know it sounds silly, but I bought them in one of those moments you can’t really explain.  The previous day I’d had a painful conversation with my father, painful not because of words spoken, but because of words not spoken ~ words I very much wanted to hear.  I felt like I was five again with that unspoken desire "Pick me!"

For the most part I worked through the biggest internal knots, but was still worrying through some smaller ones.  I’d run to the grocery store for a few items and was stopped instantly by a display chockfull of pink Valentine's Day Beanie Babies.  I looked at the display and nearly burst into tears.  Something about those sweet, big beady-eyed creatures sent me a huge "You are very, very loved," the same message my mom penned in her note.  So two of those little creatures ended up in my basket:  a plump, round guy with a silly grin and a pink gorilla with red hair and the sweetest little face that just said "please take me home."

While at the hospital with my mom I got to spend some time alone with her.  She was a bit unsettled and struggling with questions about the surgery and her broken hip.  I decided earlier that morning to bring the pink guys with me since they’d helped me through a sleepless night.  I pulled them from the backpack and set them on her hospital bed.  She, like me, was instantly taken by them.  She picked them up and smiled.  She caressed them and kissed them just like I had done.  She kept them in the bed with her.  At one point the round, little guy rolled off the bed.  When I got back to her room she pointed at the floor and I knew exactly what she wanted. I also learned another story about Mom and the buddies.  Their pastor and wife came for a visit and Mom had fallen asleep while they prayed with her.  As they quietly turned to leave they noticed her grasping for something and they realized she was reaching for the pink buddies to hold close.


My mom and I were close at times and we had fond connections, but we also struggled.  Seems at times we affected each other deeply and sometimes not in a good way.

On the day of my mom’s surgery I wrote her an email.  My subject line was, "My dearest Mommy” and I wrote these words:
Mom - So glad I was able to be with you this weekend and sit beside you at the hospital.  It was an honor and joy.  I will see you this morning and after your surgery.  You will be reading this email after your recovery.   
I just wanted to whisper in your ear that you are deeply, deeply loved and so cherished.  By your family for sure (Dad, Marcie, Pam and I) and most importantly I know for a fact by the Lord.  I know that when He thinks about you, He has a smile on His face.  How those little pink buddies came to be your companions at the hospital is a peek into this.  I knew I needed to bring them from Norman, but didn't know why.  It was for you!!! 
You are a delight, Mom, and always remember that you are special, so very special.  When you hear voices otherwise, you remember those pink buddies because they came with me to deliver this message to you.   
Love you so much,

My mom never got to read the email.  Although, she made it through surgery, several days later she contracted pneumonia and died soon after.  It was just too much.  In some ways I wasn't completely surprised by her death.


So the pink buddies are back with me.  I set them together on our bakers rack in the kitchen and I see them everyday.  They make me smile.  I remember my mom holding them and finding comfort in them.  I remember their message that I am loved, but mostly I remember my mom died knowing that I loved her and that she loved me.

P.S.  Check out the all the Listen To Your Mother videos on YouTube especially the ones from our OKC show.  They are all so good!!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


I took pictures of my tulips several weeks ago.  This isn't the best photo but I liked it most.  My eyes gravitate toward the bottom.  Covered by a broad tulip leaf is a sweet yellow pansy.

The day after I took this photo a raging hail storm rushed through and the tulips took the brunt (along with our roof).  They looked nothing like they had and the leaves were shredded.  The pansy, though tattered, was still intact.

I feel like that pansy today in the middle of a hail storm.  My dad is really, really struggling.  Readmitted to the hospital a few days ago with a blood infection and at this time not able to do most "activities of daily living" or ADLs.  (I now know a very important marker in the world of health care.)

This morning when I walked into his room my gaze settled on face, his closed eyes, his body under the blankets.  I quietly said good morning.  His eyes opened and he recognized me and my sisters.  I asked how he's doing.  He said he'd had a tough, tough night.  Essentially confessed that the nurses received the brunt of his frustration.  Then his face pinched, his eyes flooded with tears and he said, "I miss your Mom.  I miss your Mom so much.  I miss talking with her.  I miss her presence."  A sacred moment.  Another sacred moment.  Another moment to share in my parents' vulnerability.  This is so not easy.

My dad is not an emotional man.  Very smart, very capable, very methodical, an engineer by profession.  Now 95% of his "ACLs" are done for him.  So grateful for two mercies.  He still holds a fork, a spoon, a pen.  Still uses his stylus to navigate through his iPhone, checking the news, and his calendar.  His mind still sharp as a tack.

When I wrote those seven "P" words about grief I had absolutely no idea what was on the horizon.  This transition and season of grief is like nothing I've experienced.  At one point in my life when pondering the loss of my parents, I wondered if that loss would completely and entirely crush me.  That it would entirely possess me.  Today I'm grateful it hasn't.  Just as the word "potent" scared me when it initially came to mind, "possess" scared me, too.  I've known periods of tormenting fears and being engulfed by its grip.  Being possessed by grief is something I want to avoid.  This I want to avoid:
to bring or cause to fall under the influence, domination, or control of some emotional or intellectual response or reaction (bolding mine). *
I don't want to be dominated by grief, but desire its important work to be accomplished in my life.  This is what I want:
to have as a faculty, quality, or the like:  to possess courage. *
So this gives me pause.  Do I possess the courage to walk this path of grief?  It is bound to come.  We cannot avoid it.  We cannot step out of the way, jump over it or stop it.  I can either accept it or deny it. In less than three weeks I will read my story for Listen to Your Mother Oklahoma City, the rehearsal one week prior on what would have been my Mom's 75th birthday.  To walk this path will require courage and strength from a place I don't know today, but I'm trusting will come.

There are times when stories in the Bible speak to a deep place in my life.  The first chapter of Joshua has been one of those and one that helped me overcome those tormenting fears.  Today with much grief and sorrow I take courage in them once again.

"The Lord spoke to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ assistant.  
The Lord said, “My servant Moses is dead.  
Now you and all these people go across...
Be strong and brave... 
be strong and brave! ... 
Remember that I commanded you to be strong and brave.  
Don’t be afraid, because the Lord your God will be with you."  
Joshua 1:1, 2, 6, 7, 9 (NIV)
(bolding mine)

Saturday, March 16, 2013


Yesterday while listening to music I heard this lyric by Gretchen Peters.
...and in five minutes your whole life can change...
The words capture these last few months.  Six weeks ago Mom was in surgery and within a few short days everything changed.  These days memories of my mom come freely.  Thoughts of her frequent. Occasionally, I look up at the sky with my eyes closed and tears happen.  

I've been thinking about those seven words I wrote about grief.  At the time I had no idea that in eleven days Mom would breath her last.  The word "potent" caught my attention today.  The word scared me at first, but today it brings comfort especially this definition:  
achieving or bringing about a particular result: effective
These words bring hope that this process not only will be effective but is effective; effective today. This grief will achieve and bring about a particular result.  It won't leave me hanging.  I trust it will be good.  

Her loss, my loss, still wedged deeply, yes
...but wedged sweetly, too.  

I don't know if I will always feel her loss this way, but today it is ok.    

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Sacred Moments

The morning hours are hardest.  The house quiet.  Missing Mom.  Thinking about her smile; about her eyes, blue like the sea.

Pondering two sacred moments.  Recent days in Colorado.  My mom's lumbar hurt terribly after surgery; she rolled on her side her gown gaped open.  I massaged her upper back.  She affirmed yes in quiet pained breath.  I gently caressed her skin; beautiful ivory showing her 74 years of age.  Lower, she said, and I could feel the muscles, holding tight, protecting.  My thumbs pressed into the tension filled places. Still lower she said.  Her entire backside from the top of her bottom to her hip, holding tight.

In that moment with her backside completely laid bare, so vulnerable; it was sacred.  Her bandages soaked with fresh blood from newly sutured skin encasing her replaced hip.  Sacred, yes sacred.

My mother gifted me birth.  In her womb I was fashioned and formed; born in mid October in Mid Autumn; seasons changing.

With dad just eight days later. Grieving my mother's death and our loss at her memorial service. Later at home with him in grief and physical pain; his hands unable to grasp the tiny buttons to shed his dress shirt. He looked so handsome, donned his beloved cowboy boots perhaps one last time.  His voice in tender request to unbutton his sleeves; his shirt. Tender sacred moments.

I hung his suit, returned his boots and tie to his closet; wondered about Mom's clothes.  When is it time to remove, to reduce...what is the simplify...?   The word is not present today.

Together their embrace, the mystery of conception three times; me the last.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

My Pink Provisions in Grief

Perhaps I can write some words of explanation about my grief.  I mentioned in my post about our cabin that my father's health has declined quickly over the last 6 months.  His doctor essentially said he was just plain out of ideas and suggested sending Dad to Mayo Clinic.  We heard this week that they accepted his case which is great news.  So why the grief?

My father has always represented stability and strength to me.  Although he's had his share of health issues over the years, this is different.  His grit and sheer determination which has served him well up to this point (for the most part) isn't working anymore and his ability to control his situation is limited.  Several weeks ago while visiting on the phone all of the sudden he said "Oh no! Oh no! Oh no!" in a very, very scared voice.  I've never heard him sound like this before.  Within a few seconds he recovered and told me he almost fell over.  He's lost feeling in both legs up to his knees due to peripheral neuropathy so even driving isn't much of an option for him now.  In that moment his fragility hit me like a ton of bricks.

I want to help my father and encourage him through this last season of his life however long this lasts, but today I'm twisted up with frustration, disappointment, and grief from a painful conversation with him on a call yesterday.  It's still got my insides tangled in a few knots even though I've untangled the biggest ones.  

This afternoon I ran to the grocery store for a quick purchase and was stopped instantly by a display chock full of pink Valentine's Day Beanie Babies.  I looked at the display and almost burst into tears.  Something about all these sweet, big beady-eyed creatures staring back at me sent me a huge "You are very, very loved" message and these two little things ended up coming home with me.  The one on the right reminds me that sometimes we all act like Monsters (he's from the Monstaz collection) but inside we are special and the guy on the left just said, "please take me home."  (I even went back for him after I grabbed everything off my list).

I'm going to visit my parents next week for a few days.  It's an important trip, but it also makes me quite anxious.  I've decided these two little guys are going with me to remind me of my love for my parents and that I do love them (even when they act less than lovely) and that I'm pretty special, too.


As I write this post they are now sitting beside my keyboard.  I'm really glad I bought them and brought them home.






(Can't yet write the words that spawned this post, but I think 
that is okay and just good to attach these words to this emotion within me today.)