Tag Archives: surviving

Character

Stuff happens. How we deal with the stuff defines us.

“God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.”

James 1:12 NLT

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Cloudbursts

The forecast in our region was for cooler temperatures – yeay! That’s due to scattered thunderstorms. Forgive the pun, but it put a damper on some of my plans.

Undaunted, I took my hourly walks around the neighborhood despite the forecast. Between cloudbursts I had a revelation: The preeminent times of my life occurred between cloudbursts.

Storms are a mixed blessing. They not only nourish and cleanse the earth, freshening the air, but they can also cause some astounding damage. That pretty well describes my family’s history. Metaphorically, tempests formed our lives – together and individually. Winds brought limbs down, lightning started fires that consumed everything familiar, burnt us and tore our family apart at times.

And yet we lived. Can I hear a hallelujah?!

Most of my family members enjoy above-average lifestyles now, despite having experienced several very close strikes and some direct hits. You’ve probably never felt like you needed to throw or hit something lest you explode. We feel that way sometimes. I’m not especially proud of my 78 m.p.h. pitches. We still freeze at the sight of some old photos or some familiar-looking strangers. Then there are those moments when we go from serene to raging tempests in a heartbeat. Or mention certain names and my mind goes blank as if it had just been erased. I came through all that while trying to understand letters and words that rarely looked or sounded right. Still, I learned.

“But you are a tower of refuge to the poor, O LORD, a tower of refuge to the needy in distress.  You are a refuge from the storm and a shelter from the heat…” Isaiah 25:4

Twisted as it sounds, I like to remember the moments after my son returned from Iraq in four-plus pieces – after the surgeon told me to prepare myself for the worst. I wondered if they actually rehearse those insipid lines. I recall unintentionally staring the man down for what he later described as “an uncomfortably long pause.” I remember thinking through what he’d told me, wondering who on earth does his hair, and recalling everything God promised me. All I said to the doctor was, “You obviously don’t know Who you’re dealing with.”

And I love to remember Nathan’s second first steps weeks later.

Around and in between all that I:

  • danced alone in the rain along the Mogollon Rim,
  • loved with abandon,
  • surfed,
  • sang to the Blue Mountains at sunset,
  • looked into the eye of a whale off the starboard deck,
  • coasted down Jerome, Arizona’s roads at midnight by moon light only,
  • ran with wolves, wolf-dogs and mustangs,
  • watched my sons learn to dive, hit home runs, graduate, be inducted into the military and fire houses, drive cars, trucks and tanks (God spared us all), fall in love, weep as they became fathers and paced the floors with their babies,
  • and a hummingbird rested on my knee as I rested during my yard work.

Though Seagh actually went on ahead without the rest of us, he’s safe and at peace now. We’re all still standing. Some days we’re stronger than others, but we dance in the rain and breathe easy between cloudbursts.

What brings it all into perspective is my family is only one minute particle of humanity, and yet, God cares for us as if each one is His only child.

“I will say of the LORD, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’” Psalm 91:2 (NLT)

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Hope

Even with my post deadline looming ominously, last week’s recap wasn’t especially inspiring – until I got to my notes from talking with Hope. A dear friend for decades, Hope inspired What Next’s theme and much of my writing.

In another state (and by other names, of course) she is a live-in health care provider, presently for a person with Dissociative Identity Disorder, a severe, often disabling mental condition.

HAVOCA-dissociative-identity-disorder

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I’m fascinated with the subject. I studied and wrote a paper on D.I.D. in school. What’s more, over the years I’ve learned that while comparatively rare, it is more common than we want to think about. A form of PTSD/CPTSD, the fact that something otherwise unimaginable (consistently extensive, prolonged abuse) happens, causing the mind to shatter and recreate itself. I have the utmost respect for such victors (commonly considered victims).

I am often amazed by stories Hope can share with me without violating any confidentiality. Living with so many others, all contained in one physical body is mind-boggling. It’s a life most of us cannot imagine. I especially admire the rare individuals that excel at helping these particular victors as they pursue healthy, productive lives. Even with boundless compassion, extensive education, training and experience, not everyone is good at it. That’s our Hope.

In the fallout of the recent Orlando tragedy, and locally another young woman is in heaven early over an ended romance, I can’t shake something Hope said.

Referring to an episode she experienced where an over-worked receptionist made a mistake with Randy’s scheduling. After her charge (we’re calling Randy) pointed out the error, the receptionist became defensive, and then dismissive. Hope, like most people would have reacted strongly, but Randy graciously stepped up, handled the situation aptly and sensitively, actually calming the atmosphere so the upset receptionist could refocus on the tasks at hand and then sincerely apologized to them both profusely.

Describing her awe at how well Randy handled the situation, humbling her, Hope said,

“Seriously, I’d rather be multi-minded than minus-minded.”

Life seems crazy for most of us. Compound that by pain and confusion that can stop us in our tracks – and multiply that times infinite agony. That’s life for someone living with D.I.D. Many of us can’t imagine life for a PTSD survivor, more over D.I.D.

confusion image

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Many of us have suffered some kind of loss that bent our world sideways – at least for a season. Talk to anyone who suddenly lost their home, their job; worse a loved one or themselves.

When we become minus-minded, when we forget that people today function at maximum overload constantly; the emotions, concerns and burdens quickly spin us out of control. At those points we too easily minimize the value of individuals. In my neighborhood I see it often, mostly with the street people. Without adequately processing loss, anger, pain, confusion and fear individuals silently disappear in plain sight at an astounding rate.

At such a point any one of us, even the most devout, righteous souls can take a seriously bad turn that affects everyone near us.

The world is moving so fast in so many areas, keeping abreast of potential threats is challenging. Maybe my sons being first responders makes me more aware, more vigilant than some. And maybe I’m simply getting old. I don’t worry about it all too much, but I’m not stupid about protecting my information, my family and my loved ones either. If that’s hard to understand, just ask around Orlando, San Bernardino, Columbine, Newtown, Killeen, etc.

 

“Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.” Colossians 3:14 (NLT)

“Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.” Philippians 2:4 (NLT)

 

*Image courtesy, HAVOCA

** Image courtesy, ABSFreePic

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Nothing But Love

rustic angel heart
This week is all about love.

Sdale 1981 001

In my life I’ve experienced tremendous, extravagant love. Coming from a large, close family of origin and then raising four humans, least to mention the friends and fur kids that enhance our experiences, that’s easy for me to say.

Sdale 1981 001The flip side of that coin is I’ve also experienced innumerable disappointments, tragedies, more pain and heartache than most everyone I’ve known along my way. Whether measured, like on a Richter Scale, counting the scars on my body and my mind or by the number of incidents, the figures are staggering. Experts have told me more than once, “you’re a miracle, even if only by surviving.”

Unlike flipping a coin, in my life love wins every time.

For a long time, any form of love barely stood a chance with me. Out of fear and ignorance I couldn’t trust that goodness actually existed in the world. But God sent the right people at the perfect times to break through my fortress before I self-destructed.

Even now I can’t boast about my checking account balance, properties or an 800+ credit score. Writing about the unfortunate, cruel and some nefarious events I survived would shock most people, disgust many and enrage some. I suspect a new list of such things would cause many readers to miss the greatness I’ve experienced, the joys, the heroes in my life, and especially the love.

2014 Galveston

Much like scores of survivors, those before me and those to come, I’d be pretty arrogant to consider myself more than any other human. Some of the moments of my life that I wish I could do over all happened when I felt most alone and deprived. And who wants to relive that? While I did the best I could, that doesn’t make a great person. It makes us humble, and I’m real good with that.

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Of all creatures humans are an amazingly complicated species. We are profoundly affected by elements like weather and toxins, with variables from our gene pools, our histories, present experiences, pain, comfort, affluence and more. Combine all that with circumstances, each and every person is absolutely unpredictable from moment to moment.

I’m also convinced an unmistakable distinction in people is in their response to the presence of God’s Spirit.

Now, I am certainly no Joan D’Arc, Corrie Ten Boom or Mother Theresa. Nobody would mistake my work for that of Anne Graham Lotz, Joyce Meyer or Beth Moore – yet. Not your average, everyday Christian either, I’ve narrowed my bio to that of a loving, seasoned over-comer, a grandmother and a yet-obscure writer/blogger. But I’ve learned one thing above all else is most important. Just one:

Love is a choice.

Once we get Love firmly planted in our souls, nurturing it, feeding it more of God’s love from the Source, His Word, it takes over in the most marvelous ways; forgiveness flows, envy ebbs, offenses lose their grip on us and we stop taking ourselves too seriously. We learn to love God, so we can love ourselves and better love others. At the risk of sounding arrogant, I’m living proof love wins.

 

“If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.” 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 (NLT)

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My Strongest Conjuration – Part 3

Image Viktor Mogilat

The Story Within; My Greatest Agony

 

Storm Julia Revitt“This is a great idea,” I thought. “I’m a home body. I’ve been a home maker most of my life, so writing about home will be a breeze.” After outlining and then drafting My Strongest Conjuration, Parts 1 and 2, the breeze quickly developed into an emotional thunderstorm. Telling myself, “Heh, No worries, I like to dance in the rain” I shook off the drama.

thunderstorm Iren PetrovaAfter some days work a squall developed. Frustrated with my keyboard, taking pens and tablets, a pile of ripped or crumpled paper soon surrounded me. “What was I thinking?!” I’d dismissed my outline and ended my previous post abruptly. Oh yeah, Divine intervention. Right?

The next days flew past, while I poured myself into volumes of text. And then yesterday I deleted the entire week’s work. Shockingly captivating, it missed my point; while my journey to here has been marvelous, this is not home.

heartbreak Melissa AskewTruth: Home is where my heart breaks. In my actual history, however dramatic, my early life is a suspense thriller and at some points a horror story. You name it, I probably experienced it. And then, after feeling comfortable that the worst possible seasons were behind me, the past eight years became another series of losses.

Yet, in retrospect my prevailing theme so far has clearly been victorious against all odds”. Much of “it” happened in or close to home, so it’s no surprise my attitude about home had become corrupted lately.

Now, weeks into this project, there is no escaping the concept.

Leaving my father’s house, an image of home was solid in my mind. With my ‘beloved’ and our children we would live happily ever after; “Where Thou art – That – is Home -*”

While that may work out beautifully in some stories, it didn’t in mine. Ten years and four sons later I had become a broken, single, working mom. After a while, and some ego mending, home was any four walls that enclosed the right person**. Or in our case, the right persons, my sons and me.

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While we share excellent memories with my family and friends in several different places, their curb appeal, their aromas and their colors faded away long ago. Later on this unmarried, unattached woman with no conspicuous resources was proud buying my first houses. They were nice while my sons were close by, but once they’d all left my nest, they became buildings to be visited while not working. As Daddy often said, they were where I’d hang my hat.***

Years later, still hopeful, I married again. Convinced that God joined us together, the right persons between four walls, we set out building a life together and home. While some of the following years with my best friend were lively, spontaneous and occasionally rewarding, the marriage ended with a thud seventeen years later.

lagoon Kate TandyHome then became a brand new apartment with an eastern balcony overlooking a lagoon. However picturesque, it was cold and uninviting. And yet, living there taught me to fully understand that,

To be with the right person, one must first be the right person.

God loves me as He does everyone else; and to complete that circle, loving myself has now become a higher priority. For the past several years, my mission has been to be me, and not merely settle for whatever is left of me. While working through the mire, this new focus promises to lend to a far better concept of home.

“I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself.” Maya Angelou 1928 – 2014

“How priceless is Your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of Your wings” Psalm 36:7 (NIV)

Title reference: “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” Maya Angelou 1928 – 2014

* 724 by Emily Dickinson 1830 – 1886
**“Home is any four walls that enclose the right person.” Helen Rowland 1875 – 1950
***”Any old place I can hang my hat is home sweet home to me.” William Jerome 1865 – 1932

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Present, Future and Past

I agree for the most part. As with most of life, it’s all about our next choice. I recently heard James Reeves say, “If you haven’t dealt with your past, then it isn’t your past, it’s your present and your future.” Sometimes we get stuck in the past because we left a stone unturned. Sometimes we can kick stones out of our way. And sometimes we simply walk on. We choose what we do next.

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