Give Me Some Sugar

I have been off caffeine since June.  It was, and is, worth it.  I knew the next big hurdle would be sugar.  In late January and early February, I took a stab at quitting.  Right before Valentine’s Day.  That was just careless.

It stayed in front of me.  I knew I still needed to do it.  I know this sounds strange to say, but it seemed there was no jumping off point.  Then, there was.

Lent.

The Lenten Fast.

BOOM!

I quit sweets.  Not all the foods that have any ingredient that’s just sugar with a cute name.  Just sweets.

It only took a few days to come face to face with my need of a Savior.  I felt desperate.  I lied about what I ate.  (They don’t care, and Jesus already knows.)  I cheated like a card sharp in the old west.  I let myself slip.  A lot.

I realized I felt I couldn’t live without sugar (People do.  It isn’t air.).  Then I realized there are a lot of things I can’t live without

And.

There are a lot of things I have been saying I can live without…that I can’t.

BOOM.

Yes, I have a lot of idols.  (Anything you feel you can’t live without.)  I’m also holding myself prisoner in a lot of ways, too.  Depriving myself of things God says are good. Going hungry at my Father’s table.  Thirsty, at the source of Living Water.

Who do I think I am?

Imagine you provide delicious food for your child and she sits in the chair and feels the hunger pains and doesn’t eat.

How does that make you feel?

Really freaking sad. Right?

You love her and you want her to be healthy and you want her to enjoy the things that you provide with just her in mind.

That may be confusing, but I’m not talking about the sugar anymore.

I’m talking about seeing my need of a Savior.

Seeing how much the Father loves me.

About nothing I could have anticipated or imagined.

 

~disclaimer:  I’m uncomfortable writing while in the middle because I’m not sure that you’re supposed to talk about the things you do spiritually.  But I felt led for some reason today.  And Lent is not in the Bible.  It’s a church observance.  So… Please forgive my continued clumsiness, in any case.~

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Child God Gave You

The offspring (can you call your adopted children, offspring?) were trying to look busier than their siblings, so I wouldn’t hand them a task.   I was distracted by the unanswerable questions that 16 year-old girls ask. If I answered straight up, they’d see my responsibility to minister to those I’m in relationship with. I get enough of that from Jesus, as it is.

Then, somebody did something awesome.

I’d like to give credit, but time passed.  I wouldn’t be able to remember 15 years of pop music if I made brain space for things like who did this one thing. The fact is, whoever did, whatever it was, is lost in the mists of time, but it stopped me in my tracks.

“It all boils down to loving the child God gave you.”

About 10 years ago, Robyn, told me to, “Enjoy your kids.”

I ignored her, because I was more concerned with fitting them into my idea of “what life should look like”, than who they were designed to be.

Today. I can’t not enjoy them.

My vision for homeschooling?  I had to let that go.

We’re dreadfully undisciplined. We don’t invite our germaphobe friends here. It’s like the zoo. I don’t give them all organic foods. We fight. They talk back. They have bad habits that need to be broken; they call them sociological imperatives. Their table manners and their conversation make me want to lay down in a darkened room and remain until God takes me home.

But.

Maybe we’re making up for lost time.

Maybe we did the rebellion thing when they were acting like mental patients as 10, 11, and 12 year-olds. One shares, as part of her Christian testimony, that her behavior toward me was deliberately destructive before she believed.

Maybe I’m an utter failure.

A long time ago, I told a counselor about my relationship with my dad, “He loves me, but he’s like that Eagles’ song, ‘Desperado’.  He just doesn’t always express himself.”

He looked at me for a long second and said, “You are telling me about your relationship with the picture in your head of who your dad is.”  He was saying, you have to deal with the dad God gave you.

I have to deal with the kids God gave me.

There was a moment last year that put every thought I had under the microscope:  :

“Why am I wasting time on this?”

“Is this important enough to dedicate the energy to?”

“I am holding on too tight.”

“It’s okay for her to pout, as long as she does the task.”

“Is that the worst thing that can happen?”

Those thoughts drove to the heart of living for my mental picture of the perfect child, the incredible mother, the ideal public image.

Of course, I’m back to majoring on the minors– Who didn’t put the freaking toilet paper on the holder?  Whose cups are all these in the living room?  Why can’t we follow the towel guidelines?

Back to saddling up and riding behinds.

Back to deciding if it’s a cross to bear or a broom to ride.

Enjoying them when they need their butts kicked.  It’s a complex art.

Someone has to do it.

Loving the kids God gave me.

Making up for lost time.

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Fibromyalgia File: One Year Update

A glance at the calendar reminds me of the upcoming one year anniversary of a disaster– my own pharmaceutical train wreck, complete with panic attacks and withdrawals bells and whistles.

It’s not funny to be diagnosed with a chronic illness.

Not funny, at all.

What’s less funny, is when the drugs that work for “most people” nearly kill you.

Um.

@#$%.

Where to go next?

Acupuncture.  Purposely allowing someone to put needles in your face.  hands. toes.  I think this every time I go.  And by that, I mean, I went in for my sixth visit in July and was pain-free until December.  I didn’t get back in until the second week of January, and I’ve been in once more since then.  It’s about time to go back.

The winter is the worst.  It’s a veritable kaleidoscope of symptoms.  This year, I can point to the cause and keep walking.

Saturday, I worked in the yard. Since then, I’ve paid the piper.  In all fairness, I’m not 30 years-old anymore.  I’ve also been in the chair all winter.

I did a lot of exercise last summer.  Which didn’t come to a screeching halt, but tapered off gradually.  I didn’t notice a difference.  Like the doctor insisted it would.  But then, she also told me to keep on taking the meds when I had every side effect on the “Notify Your Doctor Immediately” list.

Yes, I read the patient information sheet when I get a prescription.

No, your doctor really doesn’t want you to do that.

I digress.

One year in?

My life is better.

When I hurt, I can laugh at the pain and say, “It’s Fibro.  It isn’t anything.”

When I can’t sleep, I just get up until I can relax again.  I can stop feeling desperate.  “It’s Fibro.  This is what we do.”  Usually, I can drop back off again for an hour or so.  Typically, I’m up at 3:48 (yes, that exact).  Maybe I’ll drop off again or maybe not.

The insomnia may account for what they call Fibro fog or dyscognition.  That links to a nice tidy definition. It basically means: I might be able to think if I could only think.  This is probably the most irritating to me because I don’t realize it’s getting me until I’m got.

The accompanying depression? It is a diagnostic criteria for Fibromyalgia, but that’s just too freaking bad.  I am unmerciful to it.  Which sounds weird, I know, but things are different now.  Depression is a lie. I walk right in and attack it like it’s an intruder trying to get to my kids.  Because it is.  And I fight dirty.

One year in?

Things are different.

Life didn’t stop just because I got a diagnosis.  This probably isn’t a revelation for other people.

Fibro had to submit to the budget, schedule and order of priority.

They say, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”*

Fibromyalgia specifically doesn’t kill you and fights to make you weaker.

I am less sick today because the diagnosis made me turn and face the right enemy.

I am not stronger today because I fought the fibro.

I am stronger because my fight against that unseen enemy trained me for the battle of a lifetime against other unseen enemies.

I’m not afraid of much anymore.

Not afraid of much at all.

 

 

 

 

 

*They said it before Kelly Clarkson.  I had to rename a chili recipe because of her.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

They Weren’t Hypocrites When They Got Here

A common objection to the Gospel of Christ is:

CHURCH IS FULL OF HYPOCRITES.

I wish there were another word, because this one makes me thing of Cockroaches.  Don’t ask me why. It has since I was little.

I digress.

Cockroaches.  I mean, hypocrites.

Yes, the church is full of them.  Because, as with every place you go, your business there is not necessarily about your “business”.  Meaning, say, you are a hiker.  And your dry cleaner is a hiker. When you go into the dry cleaners, he knows you’re there to pick up your pants.  You do business for years without ever finding out that you have the interest in common.  Unless you see him on the trail. Because you aren’t there to discuss your hobbies, you are there to do business.

When you are in church, you are there to worship, God, fellowship with others, be equipped to live out your faith.

Not air your dirty laundry.

We are ordinary human beings, no more able to attain to our ideals, than to leap off the roof and fly.

When someone objects to consorting with people who are not living what they believe, they are rejecting the man in the mirror.

Who does Jesus love more?  The guy who never makes a mistake?  Or the guy who can own his @#$%?  The sinner?  Or the guy who thinks he isn’t one?

The Bible is conclusive.  Jesus came into the world to save sinners.  He died for our sins.  Not our excuses, not our rationalizations,or good reasons.  My children will put me in an early grave telling me the ‘good reasons’ they don’t need to do what I say, the way I say to freaking do it. How God must feel when we do the same to Him?

The church is called the Body of Christ.  The body, at least where I live, is sick.  It’s members are plagued.  Living lives of pain and degradation, while showing up every Sunday and making fashionable, interesting, competitive, Christian chatter.

We’re shaving, showing up, and shmiling.  Sitting the pew.  Dying on the inside.

I’m an oddball.  My business is usually out there.  I’m constitutionally unable to act fine when I’m crumbling. Dealing with stuff head on.    People don’t like that.

2013 sucked. I found out about a lot of hurting people.

A.  Lot.

Not just the messy public ones.

Lots of men.  Who are supposed to be initiators, protectors, leaders.

Lots of kids.  Who we’re supposed to be loving and teaching the way to go.

We didn’t start out as hypocrites, but somewhere along the line, we forgot Jesus, like Billy Joel, preferred the sinners for dinner companions.*

That the prodigal’s dad was waiting for him to come home.  To party.

That the prodigal guy was sick of his sin.  A real hypocrite isn’t.

At our house, we don’t act like it didn’t happen.  If I yelled at Mickey, I yelled.  If I threw a book, I threw it.  If they told me they hated me, I said, “I know, but we’re talking about chores, right now.”

I get the impression that isn’t what’s going on around the community.

Kids are feeling like it’s burdensome and uncool to do what Jesus did.  Act out of love for the Father and others.  All the time.

Hypocrite?  That’s God’s call.

Sinner.  Yeah.*

The fault line is under pressure.  The tremors are coming.

We are about to get shook.

Church.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Growing Up

Growing up is when you stop expecting people to already know what you are thinking.

Growing up is when you realize the laundry not being done is as much your problem as anyone else’s in the house.

Growing up is when you can admit you don’t know something.

Growing up is when you ask someone who knows better than you do.

Growing up is when you can trust their answer and use it.

Growing up is when you know what you like and don’t let your friends talk you into something else.

Whether that’s fashion or boys or food or colleges.

Growing up is when you can clean up another person’s vomit without having a holiday named in your honor.  Some people do this.  Some never ever do.

Growing up is when you take personal responsibility for turning off lights and water and closing doors and putting the leftovers away before they become a biohazard.

Growing up is when you realize that if you shouldn’t complain about a mess you aren’t willing to clean up.

Growing up is when you realize that if you aren’t willing to clean it up, you don’t really care.  You are a bitchy slob.

Growing up is when you realize that life isn’t a contest to see who can do the least.

Growing up is when you stop needing your mom to nag you to feel like you have permission to do the tasks that belong to you.

Growing up is when you keep loving someone who doesn’t love you back.

Just because God gave them to you.

Growing up is when you know that love doesn’t mean hanging out.

Growing up is when you have been lied to and lied about and you don’t demand apologies.

Growing up is when you are willing to wait to let the truth come out.  The easy way or the hard way.  The other person gets to choose.

Growing up is when you live with the hurt and pray for the other person to heal and have the best life God can make for them.  Without you.

And you let God be God while the pain sizzles, knowing He wastes nothing.  He’s growing something beautiful in you.

Growing up is when you get that Christmas isn’t presents and love isn’t kisses.

Growing up is when you learn to wait your turn.

Because it’s coming.

 

 

 

 

What To Do About Anger

Like I would know.

Very complex life experiences.

I need a mom to lean on, too.

God didn’t give me that mom.

In His beautiful, holy, grace; he made me that mom.

But I am helpless, hopeless, hurt and hobbling.

I have no good answers.

No timeline.

No authority to speak into the lives of people around me.

Who would listen anyway?

It’s only Maggie.

I can only get out half the thought.

Because I’m trying to condense, I cut out volume.  Miss meaning.

Only a few understand, yet it’s not their situation.

I am empty.

Falling.

Need a word, that isn’t forthcoming.

It’s said, that God trusts us in His silence.

He must be about to speak, because there isn’t anything left of me to go on.

 

 

 

 

 

Something at First Sight

At the end of the major street that split the subdivision, was a lake.  Next to the lake, were ball parks, a playground with picnic areas, a golf course and a sailing club.  When school was out, ball was on.  So, being healthy 15 and 16 year-old girls, we climbed in Mikayla’s massive family wagon (In my new color block top that had the tie on the side.) and headed down to the ball park.

All the usual suspects were there.  And someone new to me.

He was taking our dollar at the gate and selling the cokes.  Red hair, exceptional medium build.  Eyes.  Eyes forever. My heart still squeezes.

We hadn’t even been seated in the bleachers for five minutes, when someone told Mikayla he wanted to talk to me.

Being so young and so unused to that kind of attention, I didn’t leap right up and run over.

The game had barely gotten underway, but Mikayla was soooooo boy-crazy, she wouldn’t even leave me alone.  So it was get up the nerve or be gnawed to death by Mik, I had my choice.  I went with getting up and walking over there.

I went to the concession stand and waited quietly; while a BUNCH of our friends bought candy, interspersed with people who weren’t nosy; they wanted a snack.

Then some people came and needed to pay their dollars to get in.

Then he had to go unlock something.

Finally, he was free to chat a bit.

I stood there in the shade of the concession stand.  Our eyes met and held.  It felt promise-y and comfortable as broken in jeans.  Not silly or self-conscious.  Seen.

We’d barely started to talk, when Mikayla had to leave.

When we got in the car, she jabbered away in her usual style.  Completely unaware.  You didn’t tell her anything remotely confidential.

His family was moving.

That week.

I guess they must have.

That was 1982.

 

 

 

What Wisdom I’ve Gained…In All the Same Areas My Mother Did…

Mom and Grandma told me that “nothing jiggles” on a lady.  Or at least it shouldn’t.

At that time, the information was of no use to me, as I was 5’2″ and weighed 95 lbs. soaking wet.

I think you’d agree, time keeps slipping into the future.

Today, the opposite is true.  The absence of jiggle is also not any mark of a lady.  The presence of jiggle is not a way of separating the ladies from the women or broads.

I am also no longer 5’2″…

Fashion trended away from “leave a little something to the imagination”.

Fashion, that excellent slave–that terrible master.

Has driven culture to the point that Southern Living Magazine would devote a half page of copy space for a young writer to apologize and explain her reasons for appearing in ankle socks elsewhere in the issue*.  As if they would lose readers, if there were not some sort of editorial responsibility taken when a young woman keeps her toes clean and safe as she learns to fly on the trapeze.

I digress.

Discreet fashion choices that emphasize strengths and downplay weakness is out of the question.  Utility and appropriateness to the event or activity is relative.

Maybe it’s my home training, but I don’t think of the trends as my “right”.  If it shows me for what I am, I figure I don’t need to make my problem yours, and I cover myself. Vanity?  Heck, YEAH!!! But I’m leaving my struggle with chronic pain, depression, and gravy to your imagination.

My point?  Years ago, in an effort to prevent “jiggle” and “leave it to the imagination”, a woman had an arsenal of “FOUNDATIONS”.  The girdle has gone by the wayside.  Unstylish.  Unattractive.  Indicative of some sort of bondage….  Today, a young woman would never admit to wearing a girdle to cheat her way into a garment that is really made for a different body type.  Because they are a thing of the past.

Today, we have “shapers”.  Spanx.

Because those aren’t girdles.

Yes, they are.  Spanx are girdles.  Just say it.  Don’t apologize.

You are wearing Jane Jetson’s girdle.

There you go.  The emperor is now free to put his pants back on and look better in them.

 

*About 5 years ago, before Lindsey Biermann took over and turned it into Hipster Living. I subscribe and complain every month.  Mickey thinks it’s PMS.

 

 

The Heartbreak Imperative

I imagine Adam and Eve must have discussed  news, weather, and sports, before they began hiding from God and each other and speaking in vaguenesses and riddles.  No cooking or cleaning or who’s going to take the kids to practice.  Just how many goats were born and how many peaches in a pie.

*yawn*

I can’t imagine a world without conflict.  A job to do; no problems to solve.  How would that even work?

It’s immaterial.

Adam ate the fruit.  (Eve was deceived.  Adam went willingly.  No Buick necessary.)  The world and the human race were altered forever.

What we have now is a broken world full of people who, while created in the image of God, hunger and thirst and grasp for things that are not offered. Refusing the bounty before them, they seek more.  More power. More pleasure. More promise.  Just more.

It isn’t ugly most of the time.  Often it’s pitiful.  Sometimes it’s poetic. Mainly, it is a pedestrian pursuit of equality or “fairness”in comparison with our peers.  Ick.

Once we were broken.  Once we were ashamed.  Once we were isolated from God and each other, life became a battle to reclaim the unbroken and unashamed.  To know and be fully known.  To rest satisfied and to trust intimately.

More frightening and thrilling than extreme sports or stalking celebrities, is the practice of some odd souls to seek a deeply satisfying everyday existence.  Working to live…not living to work.  Being present for their kids.  Teaching those kids what they believe.  Telling them what’s right and wrong.  Trying to set an example of living graciously and by grace.  Loving their spouses–dare I say, sacrificially.

The risk is not, typically, being dashed on the rocks below or a felony conviction.

The risk is heartbreak.

From the cradle to the grave.  There are those who seem always to be doing it right and getting handed both ends of a too short stick.

Too much pain.  Too much loss.  Too much grief.

Too much.

There are those who are fearlessly, bravely, recklessly, deliberately, obediently walking onto the battlefield.

We look at them and wonder if we could handle that kind of heartbreak.

There have been times in my life, I’ve wondered if God creates certain people to be vessels to carry pain.  They grieve on behalf of many. They are to feel the pain, so that those who couldn’t handle it can pass by unscathed.

It’s been clear to me for many years, that God also trusts some of us with trials that would crush another.

He trusts me with these trials.  No need to be jealous of another’s…I couldn’t handle them.  In reality, there isn’t anyone else’s I know well enough to make that kind of call anyway.

Rambling?  Sorry.

We have hearts.

Before the fall, no biggie. Unbroken fellowship.  Nekkid intimacy.

After the fall, an eternal quest to plug into an ever-craving heart, anything and everything that doesn’t satisfy. It feels good and slowly kills us (like me and a nice Rx).  When we do figure out it’s only relational intimacy that will do, we then face the challenge of behaving for the other’s best without getting hurt.  A version of football’s “Prevent Defense”.

Eventually, we find that doesn’t work.

We have hearts.  If we are to be obedient stewards of them, we must step into life without our armor.  In order to fully live, we must have our eyes open.  Follow the rules of the game, no matter how hard it gets.  When we suffer a break, we know we are moving towards victory.

Yes, you heard me.

When we do right and get hurt, it’s a sign we’re using this heart, created in God’s image, the way it was designed to be used.

God doesn’t let on much about His heartbreaks.  His kids are a continual source of pain.  We throw his gifts in His face.  We disobey and get hurt.   He wants more for us. He wants unbroken intimacy with us and gets foolishness from us instead. He doesn’t put the focus on His desire, but on our safety, quite frankly. Even, more, on the security and satisfaction of our souls.

There is not a heartbreak we bear that doesn’t display His image on us.  His plan from the beginning has been for us to illustrate Him to those around us.

Remember photo negatives?  When you held them to the light, you could see a distorted vision of the actual.  After the developing process, the real picture was revealed.

One moment in time held up to the light.  Still, indistinct until the process is complete.

Ugly, until then.

Potentially exquisite.

What do they call it then?

Proof.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prescription for Trust

It’s frightening to be diagnosed with something real.  It’s more frightening to stop eating and sleeping and know you should both eat and sleep, but not feel the hunger or the exhaustion.  Still more terrifying, is to have felt a moment of sheer joy…

And lose it in a chemical cocktail…  The first prescription locked me out at the top of the range of emotion and focus and energy.  The second, has me locked out at the bottom.

I can’t think about myself.  I sat in a conversation the other day, and I couldn’t take the question: “What is God emptying you of and what is He filling you with?”; and apply it to myself.  I could understand the answers others gave, but I couldn’t answer it for myself.

I apologized to my sisters for sitting in silence in a very personal and vulnerable conversation(as I am typically a sharer, a feeder back and a verbal processor); because I didn’t want my silence to be attributed to anger or offense.  And I began to cry.  Well, now.  If I can’t complete a thought as it applies to my own heart, mind, and spirit.  What am I crying about?

Fear?  There is actually no middle ground between mania and misery. I can understand you, but I am a stranger to myself.  I can’t connect.

Anger?  This is the very reason I’ve avoided doctors and diagnosis for years.

So…

I go to the auditorium.  There, waiting for the good stuff to begin, is a new friend– the one  I just wanted to get to know because she’s raised such remarkable children.  She stopped me and asked me how I was doing.

I broke down.  I was so embarrassed.  I am still today, 4 days later.  So weak.  So out of control.  At this point, so ugly, as this was my second cry in an hour.

She understood.  She knew what I was going through.

She took me by both arms and stared me in the eyes and said, “God is with you.  He is with you.”  Over and over.

I locked on her eyes.

I’ve seen them all week, when I’ve heard her words.

I can see them now.

It was only this morning(or last night, I’m really not sure.  It was dark.), that I understood them.

I cannot feel anything.  I cannot do any higher order thinking.  I cannot connect on anything deeper than surface level (Hi, you are wearing a red shirt today.).

God is still here.

He hears my hunger for connection.  He knows I remember the spiritual moments I had when I could feel thankfulness, intimacy, and delight.  He knows that the memory is slipping away. Even though, I can’t even think or reason or decide or pray–He is still here and still actively protecting me and providing for me and the ones I am supposed to be caring for who shouldn’t be having to take so much care of me.

He is here.  He knows my thoughts and my lying down and my going out.

He is here with me, right now.

It turns out she understands better than I do myself.

She’s been through it and had to learn that the hard way, I guess.

So I stare back in those sparkling eyes.  And drop into her aching arms.

To wait until My Deliverer passes by.

 

 

 

%d bloggers like this: