Tag Archives: healing

Second Hand Rosie

Every thing in my cottage is mismatched, piece worked, and mostly vintage. Aside from a few family items, I acquired most everything I own in estate sales, antique stores, flea markets, etc. Like Second Hand Rose, “I rarely get a thing that ain’t been used.” Only I don’t feel abused.

I like the stories that my stuff generate. At this point in my journey it’s fun. This wasn’t always so.

Waiting for the microwave to announce my latte is ready, I wash the dishes in the sink. Memories flow from when I acquired a mug, a plate, a spoon. I remember buying the new sheers now covering my windows – and when my kitten chewed those pin pricks in the selvage.

Not that long ago household items, or rather the stories behind them used to send me into an emotional tailspin. A little further back household stuff could set me running, usually sceamin’ like the banshee, arms flailing as if swatting away a flock of crows – Hitchcock’s The Birds style.

*

When I arrived here at the ranch, this sort of behavior upset the livestock. It was time I put all I learned over the years into practice.

Long ago, before I learned to run from the memories (figuratively speaking – mostly) I’d pretend them away. Eventually fear and anguish bound and locked away much of my memory. Modern medicine calls it Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, (CPTSD).

By mid-adulthood I realized this skill had robbed me of much of the joys of my life. Since I clearly hadn’t gotten over it, I got help.

I worked for years with professionals that specialize in helping people with my symptoms. Finding the right help nor the work were easy.

I wanted to quit often. But I missed out on too many good times simply because I didn’t want to remember. I knew if I really wanted to experience “normal” I mustn’t stop the work.

**

I haven’t arrived yet. But instead of the memories dragging me away like an undertow, I can now stop them in place, sort of freeze the frame. At my age eccentric behavior isn’t unusual, so it’s all good. Most of the time I can now reason that what happened didn’t kill me and obviously it won’t stop me – without veering off course.

***

By the time I’d replaced nearly everything I ever owned I realized I had been surviving, not actually living. That’s not the life God wants for me. Sure, our early life was rough for my siblings and me. Sometimes it feels a little sad that I seem to be alone. Maybe I’m not alone. Maybe I’m leading the pack.

“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.” Isaiah 41:10 (NIV)

 

*Header, The Birds image courtesy San Francisco Chronicle

***The Bird image courtesy Google

**Hitchcock image courtesy Jason Bovberg 

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Run Away Brain

Before I was fully awake I stumbled over a toy that my most recent house guests had left behind.

 

 

Moving forward regardless, even before I prepared the trace amount of caffeine I allow myself, I was fussing and fuming over something else – it doesn’t take much. I’m often amazed how, at my age and with my wealth of experience, even now I can go from quiet tranquility to untamable shrew in 4.0 seconds*.

As happens sometimes, something reminded me of a fragment of the dark, sad past. Today, instead of reminding myself that was then and this is now, and without the little dogs to remind me Someone is always listening, I soon forgot I’m not actually alone here.

Heartbeats later I gave voice to the thoughts blowing through my mind like the gale force winds that uprooted the tallest tree from the yard, and tore away half the roof on the hen house.

Yep, suddenly angry words busted outta me like a runaway train.

Annnd once again I soon came to appreciate another of the advantages of life here in Our Place: as I worked up to a full-blown rage over ancient history Jesus’ warning from Matthew came to mind – hitting me like a board across the face:

“But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken.”**

Like a muzzle check on a firing range, that advice shut my mouth and reset my reality in a heartbeat.

I no sooner confessed the open sewer line of thoughts I’d spewed into the air, asked forgiveness and then begged God to reverse any evil I caused, than the cottage radiated peace again.

With that, my latte and I found today’s place in Jesus Calling*.

Even now I am astounded by how, from the beginning of infinity God knew this morning was coming. Not only so, He also had His plan in place to comfort and help me – today and forever:

“When you focus on what you don’t have or on situations that displease you, your mind also becomes darkened. … You look for what is wrong and refuse to enjoy life until that is “fixed.”

When you approach Me [Jesus] with thanksgiving, the Light of My Presence pours into you, transforming you through and through…*”  (Genesis 3:2-6; 1 John 1:7 ) Sarah Young

Thank God we can stop run-away brains – restarting from right here and now. Oh, and can we keep early today and the rest of our pasts between Jesus, us and these walls?

Thanks!

“Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.”

James 1:26 NIV

 

Featured Image courtesy Pixabay

2016 Camaro SS image courtesy of Jalopnik

*(c) 2004 by Sarah Young, Published by Thomas Nelson, Inc. , Nashville, TN, USA

**Matthew 12:36 (NIV)

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Again; That Guy: Part II

Again I saw that guy. It’s like everywhere I go either he is nearby or I couldn’t help overhear someone that was obviously talking about him or something else he’d done.

jerusalem crowd

I couldn’t forget the priests in the temple among the debris, the image stuck in my mind. It’s like an earworm, but irrepressible. I hate the way the image makes me feel fearful, and I’m annoyed with myself that it bothers me. I’m exasperated that I haven’t found my friend – we agreed to meet at the Temple Gate. All I want is to be ready for the Passover.

I couldn’t go a block without hearing someone talking about the incident at the temple. People seemed obsessed; both excited and upset. I actually heard someone say that guy touched some blind, crippled and terminally sick people who afterward could suddenly see, walk and are no longer sick at all. How could that be? I must get to my business.

Shortly after eating, I was walking off my meal when I saw the guy again – coming toward me. I wanted to turn and walk the other way – where that guy went there was trouble. But as if the air between us was charged with some peculiar energy that drained me of my will, I couldn’t move.

The guy was not exceptionally tall, but as he moved closer he looked straight through the crowd surrounding him, right into my eyes. All motion seemed to stop – I was captivated, as if his face drew me closer. I suddenly felt as if the guy saw my entire history, knew my unspoken thoughts. I again wanted to leave, but I couldn’t. Distinctively unnerved, I wanted protection from him. For an instant a notion to call for a guard briefly flitted across my mind – I am such a hypocrite.

The moments seemed like hours and then before I knew it he continued moving on with his group. Like an idiot I stood there until I realized people were bumping into me as they passed in every direction. I checked for my bag and feeling it there I started walking again, aimlessly drifting with the crowd.

Later, making my way back to the temple, I heard people saying, “Heaven… wind… light… and Jesus.” I honestly don’t know why, but I am entirely unnerved. I feel drained, exposed, and remarkably uneasy. I long to find my friend and secure a place to stay the night.

“…A person can receive only what is given them from heaven.”
John 3:27 (NLT)

Featured Image courtesy ABSFreePic

Originally posted on What’s Next on 2016 March 22

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On Second Thought

Contrary to my nature, I awoke with a negative thought this morning, my body and spirit feeling uncharacteristically heavy and dark.

Not realizing it, I carried that around with me through the first minutes of the day.

Also not usual in those first moments in that hour as my brain wakes, I began examining, probing the negativity.

Hours later I’m now slightly embarrassed. After waking and walking with the Holy Spirit all these years I’m still so easily tempted to shoulder burdens God never intended for me to bear alone:

  • grief,
  • anger,
  • anxiety,
  • remorse,
  • fear…

This morning grief got a good grip on me before I even recognized it.

Thanks to God, something outside the kitchen window soon captured my attention, changing the atmosphere entirely:

clear, blue skies decorated with white, fluffy clouds!

Sometimes it’s good to be easily entertained or distracted.

With the tangible vision of a brand new day, my second thought was, “Wow God, what a fabulous day!”

God and I kicked some ideas around together a while. Now, tea is cooling, sunshine is bursting through the windows igniting the rooms with energy. As I realize today is officially the last day of winter, I’m so very thankful for second thoughts.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8 (NIV)

 

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Breathing

I imagine by late February just about everyone in this region and especially those in the northeast is very ready for longer, sunlit days and warmer weather. With the scantier rations of sunlight, rain, snowfall or wind, my moods chnaging with the winds used to worry me.

But this year is different. I notice the changes all around me and within me, but I’m not the least bit concerned.

No, I haven’t stoked the last fire of the year yet – our days of warm temperatures in early February took a dive again. Now in this second week of March, with warm mid-days and more evidence of spring nearby, I’m a little reluctant for winter to end.

I know, some people just won’t just be satisfied.

Lately I’ve been relishing the light shows on my walls and ceilings. I enjoy the warm energy surging through the rooms, the roar of the fire and golden waves flickering in the chrome of the bikes at the far end of the room – all cast from the safety of the wood stove. Though I failed to capture the lights on camera, I doubt I’ll ever forget them.

Rain fell overnight so this morning a little puddle greeted me from where it dried on the gray-streaked red floor. In my reflection I saw a stronger and gentler young woman smiling up at me. Today it’s funny how the occasional puddles bothered me when I first arrived here. I was upset after an extension cord shorted the outlet nearest the door (but not the treadmill). And I recall the frustration after none of my quick fixes stopped the leaks.

Now I simply roll with brother Cole’s grand plan that will not only stop the water leaking in, but will let more light into the cottage. For now I’m okay with an occasional extra mopping. Besides, I can wait to resurface and re-stain the concrete floors – until Cole and I can agree upon a color.

While circumstances aligned so Cole could bring me back to the ranch, I used to dream about how I would redesign the cottage. The funny thing about dreams is how little time influences them. The dream was far different during the first year-plus since I returned. People and livestock have come and gone, inventory shifted, projects reached completion and new ones began. The weather wasn’t all that was fairly brutal that first year. This year I welcomed winter.

Though the cold has worn old and I continue to look forward to upgrades and improvements around the cottage, I am comfortable and content.

At least every week something else about these surroundings, this time and place resound like peaceful chords through my soul – the soul that arrived here bruised and weary. For this season I freely breathe. I also weep, heal, laugh and dance. And I rest as one-by-one I lay my old burdens down.

God is the best dance partner!

“For the Lord will deliver Jacob and redeem them from the hand of those stronger than they.  … Then young women will dance and be glad, young men and old as well. I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow.” Jeremiah 31:11, 13 (NIV)

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Two Joys

During the winter months, with firing up the wood stove, ashes, muddy floors and extra hours of darkness there are always additional tasks and chores waiting. I probably like a clean house a little more than is healthy, so I can easily dig myself into a rut indoors.

Still, when the calendar tells me spring is near I force myself outdoors every day, regardless of the weather.

Today my reward has been two-fold:

I found buds on the bulbs that began shooting up weeks ago – a very welcome addition of color to neutral winter shades.

Then I stopped to feel the sunshine warm me deeply. This is huge for me – normally I can quickly feel anxious being still – especially in the yards.

But over the winter God daily urged me to rest and let Him do His job (running the universe). As the sun rose over the treetops illuming the bulb bed the words from our predawn time together resounded through my soul:

“You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy, that I might sing praises to you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever!” Psalm 30:11, 12 (NLT)

After a while I skipped down the driveway singing aloud. No first responders were involved.

Be blessed and pray it forward!

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Ups and Downs

What a remarkable morning it’s been!

A fellow blogger at Life Continues shared some vintage photos complete with captions. I enjoy photography and I relish those times when someone else’s mind wanders in some of the same ways as mine. And I especially enjoyed her closing shot. Happy sigh.

I needed that. During the short, dark winter days we can be more sensitive than usual. Isolated by weather, spirits can easily take a nosedive.

For example, lately I’d nursed the sting of a clearly unintentional offense from DearFriend (not to be confused with DearOldFriend 😉 ). In fact, because of something else DearFriend said offhandedly a couple of times, the molehill had become a mountain in my mind. Soon I had to “walk it off” before I could spend my usual quality time with God.

Some days finding the peace that passes understanding* takes longer than others. ‘Ya know what I’m saying?

But this morning I was free of any gloomy feelings and was determined to not allow any negativity about anything – period. Then what promised to be a sunshiny day turned dark and overcast before I loaded the days’ firewood. With that disappointing change, once back inside I went to the WordPress Reader instead of working, seeking fun and lively headlines.

Comically, I was going to skip over that post. The title was a tad ambiguous so I kept scrolling. As I scrolled, I began to feel the days-old sting – DearFriend saying in passing that one of my post Headlines as it appeared on Facebook sounded negative to her. Since she’d just been through one of life’s wringers, she didn’t bother to read it.

Ouch!

But the timing this morning couldn’t have been better. I sure showed DearFriend… I scrolled back and read that new post. So there!

In that unfortunate conversation with DearFriend, time restraints did not allow for us to address my concerns for her – or her opinion of my writing. Later in my unchecked imagination, since one of my biggest fans no longer read my work I was ready to throw in the towel!

‘Fact is, I’m blessed with great friends that are consistently supportive. They understand that if I’m out of sorts there’s a good reason. DearFriend never implied she didn’t read any of my posts or that the one actually was negative. She said she had an issue on that one particular day.

Working through CPTSD issues, it’s easy to get stuck in a present day scenario. Often a moment can last for hours or days. Unable to see through the temporary fog – what would otherwise be a natural, reasonable response to new experiences – sometimes survivors can quickly slide down a slippery slope into the profound sadness of a past event or depression.

In those situations forward motion can falter and the joy of life can seem temporarily absent.

This is why friends, community, support networks, (ahem) the blogging community are essential to healing and recovery. One hand washes the other, people.

So, something I’ve learned this past year is to roll with occasional negativity, but don’t run with it. I’m learning to ask myself what I’m feeling and why. Often all I need is a simple momentary distraction:

  • Toss a ball – even better when there’s an obliging dog to chase it,
  • Positive affirmation. Say out loud, “I can do this,” “I can look from another perspective” “This is a test”
  • Step outdoors for a minute or two, loose those endorphins.

If in moments some happy possibilities don’t emerge,

  • Pick up the phone and shout out a simple, “Hey.”

Most times only God knows the grief or fear one may have just relived. More often than not with the sound of a safe, friendly, familiar voice, I’m happy to simply be alive and far happier than I imagined I could be.

Now and then we all need a little help and simple, healthy distractions may not always be ideal. Most of the time everyday life on the ranch keeps me in balance. My methods are by no means a cure-all to traumatic events or depression and sometimes distractions don’t help in the long run. After years of working with experts I’m learning to recognize when I need a life-line, so I don’t hesitate to ask for help.

I’ve also learned I actually can handle sad times. What happened back then was then. It’s not now. I can now enjoy today. The sorrow, terror and pain doesn’t actually last forever. By learning to help myself back up, I learned to help others up too.

 

What’s more, when the time is right I can enjoy acting silly with my friends, at ease with the rest of the world. Of all God has shown me over the years, I am most assured that nothing can interfere with His plans for my life – not even me.

 

“O Lord, if you heal me, I will be truly healed; if you save me, I will be truly saved. My praises are for you alone!”

Jeremiah 17:14 (NLT)

 

* “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6,7 (NLT)

 

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Reblog: Wearing the Millstone

Once again Mike Ridenour at New Hope For Dry Bones addresses one of my personal frailties, and hits it out of the park.

http://wp.me/p8sgJt-DO

Roo’s feature image courtesy ABSFreePic.com

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Response

I didn’t realize it at the time, but looking back I now marvel over how quickly I’d reacted.

In the moments leading up to reaching my coffee pot I went from motivated to a mess. And I admit, I wanted a villain, someone to blame for my upset, let alone the difficulties that were certain to snowball.

Yes, friends, although I kept my bright red espresso grind coffee container out on the counter for two days – for the sole purpose of reminding me I must grind more coffee – that morning the stark reality that I’d entirely run out of coffee blindsided me.

It got worse. Not only was the strongest caffeine source in my kitchen some aged (however delightful) white tea, Deadline had advanced from the shadows of the cottage and towered over me, sword drawn over it’s obnoxious head. Annnd we had a villain …

Duh – duh – dunh.

This was quickly developing into one of those emotion/hormone-packed, full-on-drama mornings. I had already suspected that in hindsight I would wish to somehow erase it all from the eternal hard drive as if it never happened. A wise woman would have paused the whole day there. Not this one. Not that day.

Still, two mornings back I’d added coffee to my Needs Now List. For the subsequent forty-eight hours I planned my run to town between breaks and staring blankly into space. I try to economize wherever possible and make the most of the trip. This usually works very well. Until it doesn’t. Until that morning.

So, there I was, bravely forging onward sans caffeine, thinking I had a good handle on everything within my ken. Strangely predictably, it became the worst morning ever, something unexpected had happened. Forget happened – I felt like someone hit me across the abdomen with a five-foot long 2 by 4.

The car was gone.

Duh – duh!!  {Roo jumps behind the wall as if sensing a predator nearby, but seeing and hearing none, she then lets out a loud, agonizing shriek, “Why God? Why, without coffee?! scaring away any other life forms from the area…}  Okay, I sighed deeply but imagined screaming loudly.

Assumption:  Since Brother sometimes changes our arrangements, routines and moves things without telling me or giving me a heads up first. He took the car for the day without telling me.

The Lie: Brother doesn’t actually give a care about me.

Reality: The evening before Brother had used his vehicle (ahem, that he keeps mostly for my use), parked it in the back of the lot, and then forgot to press “send” after composing a text to me. Therefore, I didn’t receive his text advising me the night before.

Reality Check: Even though Brother’s mordant veneer momentarily confuses me and annoys me often (like most siblings I know), he also surprises me with thoughtfulness and sensitivity on occasion.

Granted, me without morning caffeine is scary, but it is not the end of life as we know it. Not hardly. However, for those few minutes that morning, before the exchange of texts set me back on track, I had wasted a morning’s worth of energy being extremely upset. A black hole sucked a huge chunk of my life away from us – over nothing.

Later, with a triple-shot/double vanilla latte in hand, I took a time-out with God. Deadline would just have to chill. After some needed time by the riverside I was actually glad for that wake up call.

Roo 1995 Columbia River

There God showed me that with my roots now beginning to unwind I have a better grasp of life than ever before. And yet, once a year  week  occasionally I jump to conclusions, assume the worst, and quickly follow with the big-ol’ lie at the core of it all that God really can’t care for me.

Silly ol’ Roo.

My eyes watered from what felt like a stinging punch in the face. Seriously, I checked for blood. Finding none, He then went on past my faults, deep into my needs. He showed me I have indeed come a long way in every facet of my life. Even so, I lived so long in darkness, ignorant of His love for me, we must also allow for time to adjust to light. Whatever my degree of healing, I was severely damaged back then and I am still quite human now.

He went on:

He noted how I now recoil far less frequently than ever before, that I now voice my upset feelings too – mostly appropriately. Then He assured me that some day soon fear, sorrow or anger will not overtake me with the mere thought of darkness. Then I’ll have learned to respond rather than react.

God says so. While I continue to trip up, and can’t feel it yet, I can believe it.

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1 (NIV)

I can believe it for me as well as for my siblings, other brothers and sisters on their healing journeys.

Today you and I are the only ones to know how short-sighted and down-right silly I was earlier. Shhh…

“Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.” Rom 5:2 (NLT)

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Feeling Fly

The end of summer is drawing near. I feel the smallest bits of change every day. Though it’s still hot late into the evenings, mornings stay cool a little longer, dawn breaks scant minutes later each day and the sun sets a little earlier.

With the gradual changes also come some acceptance. Events and projects I planned or hoped for most likely won’t happen this summer or this year. Next year. Fine. But for the first time in decades, I am actually feeling disappointment – emphasis on feeling.

I don’t know about most people. I know some people that grew up with abuse and violence learn how to cope with disappointment early. For me disappointment always seemed to be a lesser pain – one with fewer immediate repercussions. A slight from somebody here, plans are waylaid there, loved ones go away or move on – this is life. I learned to shove disappointment so easily, that I rarely noticed it as an adult.

For many years God and I have worked toward healing all that broke as I grew up. The biggest, most difficult part of the process is learning to feel in the moment. As I learn and heal the numbers of people I meet that share similar trouble – feeling their emotions shocks me.

I can report that now, after much prayer, work, studying, soul-searching; now that I am beginning to recognize my feelings earlier into the experience process, now what used to be easy is becoming remarkably hard. And now that I’m beginning to grasp the concept of feeling, I mostly recognize disappointment. And often when that happens, I also recall God’s words to Mackenzie from The Shack*

“Most birds were created to fly. Being grounded for them is a limitation within their ability to fly, not the other way around. You, on the other hand, were created to be loved. So for you to live as if you were unloved is a limitation, not the other way around. Living unloved is like clipping a bird’s wings and removing its ability to fly. Not something I want for you…  And if left unresolved for very long, you can almost forget that you were ever created to fly in the first place.*”

I also noticed how disappointment often becomes hope more quickly than any other feeling.  I not only believe I can live with this feeling, I’m beginning to wonder if maybe I really can fly!

“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NLT)

*(c) The Shack by William Paul Young, Chapter 6, A Piece of π, p. 97

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