The Attic

When I was 19, someone I loved and looked up to took her own life. Her battle with manic depression was lifelong. She was in and out of the in-patient and out-patient programs that try to save us…. The ones that lock you in, medicate you, shock you, put you into groups, and try to change how you feel and how you think.

When I was going through my college depression, this friend of mine would come to my home and give me books, small gifts, and words of hope. She was a few years older than me and she told me that it gets better and to keep going. She convinced me that God sees us and He knows our pain. She told me that no one can explain why we have it or why our brains sometimes don’t heal from it. “There’s more of us,” she said. “There are groups that can help people like us. Keep hanging on, Laura.”

This friend of mine went missing one hot, summer week. No one could find her and her posters went up. The police began looking for her as a missing person.  Our church family was beside ourselves. We prayed for her to be found unharmed and safe. We cried with her parents as they continued to look for her. A week later, she was found starving and dehydrated hiding in the steaming, summer heat of her parents’ attic. She didn’t want to be found. She didn’t want to burden anyone. She hid herself away because people don’t understand.

I can still see her missing-person posters. They were posted all around our community at the local stores. I saw her beautiful, shiny blonde hair and blue eyes as I opened doors to walk into Walgreens and Cub Foods; A stunning smile hid her mental illness. She had given me a book – her words written in the margins. They were words of self-reflection, hope, and a constant plea for help. I still have the book. The title doesn’t matter. Inside I see her handwriting pleading for an answer – hanging onto the fringe of life – waiting for better days. Help us stop the madness, Lord.

I don’t know how long after my friend was found and treated that she went missing again. I just remember the day at college when my mom called me on the phone and told me to sit down. My friend was found again. But this time she was gone forever from this world. The details were more than I could take sitting there in silence listening to my mother. The harsh facts of how my friend ended her life do not matter. She was found with her Bible and a note with her. She was sorry to her friends and family, and she prayed that God would forgive her and understand why she couldn’t go on.

I sat at the funeral service staring blankly at her photograph. I took in her shiny, blonde hair and blue eyes with a bubbly personality that could light up a room. I glanced over at her parents bravely shaking hands and exchanging hugs with friends and family. It really is still so VERY PAINFUL. “Here I am, Lord” was playing on the organ, and I distinctly remember her mother taking me aside and pulling me in. She whispered to me to never give up. She told me it should never end that way and that there is a lot of hope and help. I can STILL feel the devastation and hear the utter desperation in her voice, “It doesn’t have to be this way, Laura. It shouldn’t be this way. No matter how bad it gets, you keep going. Do you hear me, Laura? You keep going.”

Time marched forward without a choice and I finished college. I just picked up and went on without her. I’d see her brave parents at church – marching on too – because there really is no other choice. It wasn’t easy and it never has been when I stop to think of it. Most days I can’t stand to think of it. But its been so hot this week. Her memory has bubbled up to the surface again.

Her book holds a prominent spot on my living room shelf. Her funeral bulletin somewhere else – safe out of sight – saved forever. Mostly though, her mother’s words and touch remain on me just like it was yesterday. You don’t really get over it, You don’t really, fully move on. Ever. And you don’t get over clinical depression. MY daily depression never leaves. It hangs on, just like the memory of her. It stings me, and burns deep into my heart and mind if I think too much. I’ve been on medicine for more than half my life now – It keeps me here, keeps me hanging on writing HOPE in the margins.

People, friends, unknowns…. they expect you to just dig your way out. “Work less”, they say. “Try different things, exercise more, try better doctors, try different foods and medicines.” If it were that simple, don’t you think people like me would have tried it already? In fact, I bet I have already tried those things, thank you. The fact is, that I have tried EVERYTHING. I’ve even stood at the front of churches, hands up, with false prosperity pastors that promised me healing. Pray harder – believe more. It didn’t work. There was no healing.

I don’t know why – but on really hot days I still think of my friend in that attic. I know she was overheated and scared, tired and hungry. I understand fully that none of these things matter when you are in the depths of despair. Depression waits for no one. It is inopportune and selfish and evil. It rips your mind apart and you feel somewhat lost – incomplete –  day in and day out. There is no rhyme or reason as to why you have it. I ask myself daily why I keep feeling lost.  Just like my friend, there is no lack of faith in my life and heart.

I wonder where she would be in life right now. Would she be married? Would she have kids? Would she still be struggling, too?

I wish she was still with us so badly. I know she would listen to me on my dark days – never rushing me -always picking up the call and really, truly listening. She would let me repeat my grief over and over as many times as it takes. She wouldn’t tell me I’d feel better if I worked less, or that I should give up and quit on certain things that matter to me just because they are hard. She wouldn’t blame my day-to-day life on the way my mind works, or tell me I’m an attention-seeker. She wouldn’t say things that devastate my heart or make the pain go deeper. She WOULDN’T do those things because she, too, desperately understood how it felt to have mental illness. She knew that we just simply don’t have the answers. And neither do you.

I know she’s in Heaven because God is a loving God and she was really sick. I hope she sees me, and I hope she’s proud of me that I kept on going. I hope her new attic is soothing, beautiful, and peaceful and that God’s light shines in making the room happy and bright. Mostly, I hope that along with God, she’ll help me see His Light when it gets too dark to write HOPE in the margins.

It has been very hot here for over a week now. I took her book down from my shelf today because I wanted to remember her again. It’s worn pages are just as I remember them: Dog-eared, underlined, lightly frayed, and the messy handwriting is in dark green marker…..Never stop living. Keep going.

“All You Ever Did” – Kandi Peterson

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Stairs In The Woods

Sleep doesn’t fall upon me kindly most nights and it is ever elusive. Typically, I have to slow my mind way down and go to The Secret Place in my thoughts. As I begin the downward spiral into my fitful sleep, I often find my mind wander within a green, lush, wooded forest. I’m not sure of the location, but I know I’ve been here many times. It is a safe place – beautiful, preserved and quiet. I want to be here.

Once asleep, my vision becomes very clear and turns into a recurring dream. I climb the same wooden stairs every time. The stair steps are overgrown with soft ivy and vines. I see that the wood of the stairs underneath is worn and I know that many others have walked this path upward, too. I appear to be wearing soft, brown sandals and a white fabric robe of sorts that falls down to just above my ankles.

There is always another person on the stairs near to me as I climb. I see their feet in sandals, and the same white robe ending above the ankles. Our robes are tied loosely around our waists with soft brown rope. I never seem to see past our waists, and I see no faces. I’m not sure who the person climbing upwards with me is, but I feel safe with this other being and I know we are on the way to something important. As I climb up the many, soft steps, I feel an anticipation building because I know I’m headed towards someplace I’ve always wanted to be.

As we climb, I absorb the lovely atmosphere of the forest. The sun shines dappled through the thick, canopy of lush greenery. I hear many lovely birds, and I feel a warm, gentle breeze that stirs the leaves. The sun’s rays through the tall trees make a beautiful mosaic of pale light on the forest floor. I also see beautiful wildflowers on the sides of the steps as we continue upward. I am never tired…or winded…or sore, and my energy is happy and radiant. Climbing upward on these many stairs has absolutely no impact on me. I never grow weary or feel the need to stop. This realization causes me to relax and build confidence as I trudge upward.

At one point in my dream, I look down and see a smiling flower. Yes, it is actually planted in the ground and is looking up at me smiling..tipping its head to the right and left. I stop to acknowledge it and cup its face in my hand before continuing on. I feel a deep respect for the flower and I love it. I know it is happy for me. Now, I know we don’t have smiling flowers that acknowledge us here on earth. But I would be remiss not to mention this flower because I see it each time in my dream. It reminds me of the Bible verse in Matthew 6 telling me that the flowers never toil or spin, or worry about what to wear, eat, drink or think. I am reminded that ALL of creation is clothed, fed, cared for, and protected by God Almighty. Our Creator breathes life and glory into everything….so why should I be surprised to see a beautiful, smiling, animate flower? I see this flower every single time in my dream. It serves a purpose, and is a personal reminder not to worry. I know God puts the flower in my dream so I will listen to it’s message.

Sometimes as I move up the stairs, I will see my old pets who have passed on. They are vibrant and healthy just as I remember them from my childhood and past. I see them all – my cats and dogs. My beloved pets spring and jump and bound upward on the hill to the left of me as I travel upward, still climbing the wooden steps. My pets are happy to see me and they know where I am going. They are softer-looking, and more radiant than I remember them, and I feel their adoration and grateful spirits. I have NEVER been more sure of the love I’m feeling from these pets in my dream. Words fail me in describing it, but its a pure love-full of confidence and happiness, and I know it comes only from the Father.

Other times in this dream I am carrying small children up the steps with me. They are very clearly toddlers and preschoolers. These children are happy to be with me and we hold hands and laugh together as we climb the stairs. I pick up and carry the littlest ones – one or two on each of my hips. Their little hands cling to me and pat my back and play with my long hair. They know me and love me, too, these little ones. I am not sure why they are with me climbing the stairs….but In my dream, I feel the same sort of adoration and love from these children that I feel when I see my pets. We all seem to know one another, and we all very clearly know and worship Jesus and look forward to seeing Him.

Each time as I climb the stairs in my dream, I get to the very top. As I reach the peak, with my pets, the other being and the children in tow, we look out over the edge of a tall mountain top. I know it’s the New Jerusalem that I’m finally looking down upon. As far as the eye can see, there is a radiant, shining brilliance. It’s the largest and brightest city I have ever seen. It’s mostly shades of pinks, purples, golds and blues, and it is sparkling from a distance. This city is clearly a Kingdom… unmatched by any other in the world. I stand there in awe of God’s Majesty and I know I will soon be home. This beautiful place I am overlooking is MY city. MY HOME.

I wish I could tell you more about the view when I look upon the city of New Jerusalem. But at this point in my dream on The Stairs, the top of the mountain is as far as I ever get. I realize now that this dream connects with my others:

The River.
The Wooden Path.
The Doors.
The Tower.

I’m not sure exactly what God is telling me, or specifically what He wants me to tell you all here in my very simple human blog. But I continue to go back every night to The Secret Place. It is here that I am able to fully rest in the quiet Peace of God. I will return as long as I can. Sleep DOES get easier when you put your faith in God and wholly rest in the steadfast arms of Jesus.

I pray that you see the beauty in all God has for you – Especially in your darkest hours or you feel scared and wide-awake. I pray that you find the things you miss and still love. I pray beauty is revealed in your beloved pets, the face of a small flower, or the soft touch of an innocent child holding your hand and patting your back.

I pray for you all every night when I lift up the cold and torn world that we live in now. I pray that you find your Secret Place….. May it bring you the peace and tranquility that you will only find in Jesus. Thank you, Lord.

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.
Psalms 150:6

“Thank You” – Jesus Army

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Tire Swings and Woodchip Money

We bought our house 18 years ago for the school and playground across the street. The elementary school was darling. We didn’t have children but we wanted them and we had waited and prayed for them. Kids make the world go ’round.

I didn’t get pregnant easily. We had waited 6 years, and we did it all the slow way – saving, building and growing. We finally got the house…the neighborhood…..the school….the playground. We had it all, but I began to worry that the MAIN part of my little dream wasn’t gonna happen. (You know….the part that makes the world go ’round.) But I’m delighted to say that at the time of this writing I have two beautiful teenagers; One daughter, one son. They are the light of my life and have taught me more than anyone or anything else on this crazy place we call Earth. They make me a better person.

Some of my favorite memories happened at the playground park across the street. I taught my kids to “look both ways” before crossing the road. We saw many fun things in the grass and we often found rocks on the short way over there. We raised caterpillars and let them go as butterflies at that park. (So long, Jimmamajingles – so long Kroney.)  I ran a small daycare and had regulars who would frequent the park with us. We were one big family and we always had a great time. By the way….Greta – if you’re out there reading this….you will always be part of our family. We remember you fondly in our childhood memories. (And I can’t believe you are headed to college in the Fall. This post is for you, too, honey. And there will always be a snack bin in the pantry and gallon of milk in the fridge for you. I hope you will walk right in and hug me sometime soon before you are all grown up and gone.)

Back at the park, we had endless twirls on the tire swing. There was only one – so it taught kids at the playground to take turns….or better yet…SHARE the ride. They would happily all jam on that little tire together asking for a push. It was fun to watch my children learn how to climb up to high places and then watch them ride down slides finally on their own while I waited at the bottom for a little kid to happily shoot out. There were monkey bars, and little slides, and crawl spaces to discover. There was a swinging rope bridge, and its here that when older, my kids learned to take the hands of smaller children and help them cross over, too.  I would sit on the bench watching everything secretly hoping I wouldn’t get called to push the tire swing again. But I’d do it time and time again forever if I could. 

Under the playground ‘castle’ was a little alcove the kids liked to hide in. Here they would pretend that they ran the local McDonald’s drive-thru. It was here that I often saw the most delightful exchanges of pretend play, sharing and kindness. It was here that I often crouched down and bought chicken Mcnuggets, happy meals, and ice cream cones with an endless supply of “woodchip money.” Sometimes it would be me in this imaginary drive-thru, and other times it was other children – all of us happy to purchase and eat our pretend food underneath a happy playground castle.

The other day, Grace was shooting hoops with my husband across the street at the park. When she got home, she told me she saw a little girl and her mom under the castle in the alcove. She said the mom and daughter were playing “drive thru” and that she wanted to buy a pretend ice cream cone from the little girl. Retelling the story, Grace laughed, saying the child told her they only sold McNuggets and fries. I asked Grace if she paid in “woodchip money” and she responded happily, “Of course, Mom!”

I often wonder why time moves so fast. It’s hard when you’re a young parent, working full time…but then only sleeping half of it. You do the daily tasks, moving through the motions and meeting all the milestones. The days turn into months and the months into years. And then one day you find yourself looking longingly at the park across the street, while your fully grown children run out the door headed for high school. Grace will graduate next year. I secretly hope the university will accept my woodchip money.

This morning, I glanced out my bedroom window across the street at that park and felt silent tears roll down my cheek. Just like everyone said, time went too quickly. Long gone are the days of simple things like little hands, dirty faces, incessant inquiring minds and sleepy bedtimes with books. I won’t tell you “It goes too fast”…or, “Enjoy it while you can.” You know these things already.

Instead, I’ll tell you that I hope when you bring your children to the playground that you let them play on everything and with everyone. I hope you let them throw away their masks and get really dirty. I hope you let them fall, so they can know they are strong and tough and stand back up on their own. I hope you will let them cry if they get hurt and scream when they are happy. May they NEVER even once notice race, or creed, or color – just people. I hope they’ll make friends….but more importantly, I hope they will BE FRIENDS.

Teach your children to share their popsicles, wagons and sidewalk chalk. Teach them to take turns. Teach them to lead – but also to follow – and to push their friends on the tire swing, too. Show them good sportsmanship, and how it looks and feels – both when winning OR losing. Let them know there will not always be a big prize at the end and they may not win, or even place. Show them that it is okay if they don’t have everything they need or want. Let them learn that it is an honor to work from the ground up buying things in “woodchip money.”

The real lessons we facilitate at the playground teach PERSEVERANCE – as we run in this game called, “Life.” And believe me, “Life” as we know it is not free. Everything has a cost and a price. But WE are free….and I can assure you that God takes woodchip money. In fact, He will take everything you are, and everything you have – and turn it into PURE GOLD.

Children are an inheritance from the LORD. They are a reward from him.     ~ Psalm 127:3

Safe In my Arms (Plumb) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nD-631ti5ho

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The River

I can see the water flowing from Your Throne room, Lord. It flows generously – so clear, so crystaline. I find it indescribable because it is so, very pure. There is nothing like it anywhere else, and I know where I am. I’m Home.

This River flows throughout all of New Jerusalem. It starts with God Almighty and it never ends. I don’t know or even fathom how far it goes because I can’t even grasp that kind of distance. The reach is infinite and I do not understand.

On each side of The River is a golden path. I see pink crystals spaced throughout and it’s the prettiest road I have ever walked. I’m barefoot and the path is warm, smooth and brilliant. I know that the path I’m on is the right one because it leads only to You. In all of creation there was only ever One Path. I know this to be wholly and completely true.

I’m on my way to the Throne Room – to face the judgement seat. I’m not afraid because I feel that You love me unconditionally. I know and understand that I need to give an account for my life; the things I’ve said – that I did, or didn’t do. I know I don’t deserve this place…this path, or this Holy Water.

I realize that I’m on this path with others, but it is not clear who they are. This never matters in the dream because I know each pilgrim is on their own journey. There are beautiful fruit trees near the path and it is peaceful. I am not hurried in any way because there is no need to rush anymore. As the others and I all walk along this path, I keep my eyes on the Water, which again, is nothing like I have ever seen in my lifetime. It calls to me.

I want to reach in, and know I should ask first. But before I say the words….I hear the answer,
“You can touch the Water.”

I feel a bit hesitant to reach into the stream as I know this Water is special. I know where it comes from and I know it is Pure. I realize at that very moment that I am not and will not ever be worthy of such a Holy Water.

The others keep walking the path taking in all the Glory. I feel a bit like I should keep up with them…yet I’m continually drawn back to this Water. I just want to dip my hand in so badly.

Someone kind and gentle takes my hand. They are bright and glowing and I am in the cover of their wings. I feel small and unholy next to the angel. Again, I do not speak, but I hear the angel tell me, “Laura, go ahead. It’s okay to touch the Water.”

I suddenly become aware that the angel has been with me for a very, very long time. For all of eternity, this angel has been holding my hand. I understand this now, remembering that when I was so sick in this human body, I was never, ever alone.  The angel wholly understands my life’s pain. More than I ever could.

I look to the Water and I know it is what I’ve waited for all my life. I saw it many times in The Dream. Somehow, I know I don’t deserve it, but standing there by the River with the angel, I know it belongs to me and I to it. It flows in me. It IS in me.

I’ve waited for so long to touch The Water; So clean and clear and Holy. I know for certain that reaching in will bring complete healing. I know it will take away my pain. I know it is there to wash over my mind…so hurt, so damaged and so clouded by my life spent on earth. The Water will heal in an instant all of the tragedy of my broken life.

The warm hand holds tightly to my own left hand. I start to bend down slowly because my body has always hurt and I need to move carefully. Surprisingly though, I bend down with no pain at all – the angel still holding tightly to me. “Go ahead. Reach in”, the angel says.

I dip my right hand into the crystalline Glory of The Great I Am. In one, unfathomable, holy instant, I feel my whole life’s emotional and physical pain sucked out of me. I am in awe of my new hand and my new body. I instinctively feel that I am a New Creation.

Then suddenly, I awake at home again in my earthly bed. I never get past touching the Water in this dream. I often lie awake at all hours thinking of The River. I wonder why the dream doesn’t go on. I try to go back, and I miss the angel….my true friend…who has known me and been with me since I was God-breathed and knit into my earthly Mother’s womb.

This angelic being knows my innermost pain and darkest secrets and still holds my hand tightly… never letting go. I understand now about how the angel loves me unconditionally… even in my ever-flawed human state.

Sleep is ever elusive. Pain here is permanent. A spring of hot tears roll down my cheeks when I think of The River. I’m going back again tonight in my dreams.

God sees me. I know He sees all of us, because in my dream The River never ends. It carries on forever reaching into all of creation…hoping to move mountains and to heal all the world’s people. I think we all have an angel, too. One that knows and loves you more than anyone else on earth ever has.  An angel that holds your hand in the dark when your body hurts, and your mind races, and you feel worried and scared from all that creeps in. Mostly though, I remain in awe knowing that this angelic love is still no match for the love of God The Father. Agape Love. Whole. Healed. Complete. Home.

God made the Angels. And He IS that River that flows from the Throne Room. There is nothing more or less than complete perfection and healing that come from The Water.

Someday I’ll wake for the very last earthly time in my bed. Instead of here in the hurting, I’ll awake in Heaven on that glorious, golden path headed straight toward God’s perfect majesty. Until then, I’ll keep visiting The River in my dreams. I’ll hold my angel’s hand tightly while once again reaching into the flow of God’s Healing Water.

 

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The Erasing…

From where I sit in my living room and teach, I look out our big bay window. Behind me and beside me are all the wonderful things I use to teach my students online in China. I started teaching in October when my other job came to an abrupt and unhappy end.

I sit in a little corner of my dining area my family calls my “office”. I wake up at 3:30 and 4:00am to teach my little Bao Baos for a few hours every morning before taking my kids to school. After my lessons are done, I get to write feedback on how each little one did in my class. I get time to reflect on life. I think about our freedoms here in America and I think of how lucky we are to call the USA our home.

I am reminded of how each child is different – completely a beautiful design knit together by God. It does not matter what culture we live in. The ultimate goal with children is that we teach them and that we teach them well. It is important to show grace and mercy in their learning, for each child learns at their own unique pace. I have noticed that in China, there is no mention of learning disabilities. There is no mention of dyslexia. The children there go to school sometimes 7 days a week. Their homework is rigorous and their exams show no mercy. By the time they are sitting in my class, they have done homework after school, take my class, and then will continue to do homework again well into the night.  The goal is to succeed highly and bring honor to your parents.

I love my job teaching English as a Second Language to these lovely Chinese children. My schedule is full and I realize I was always meant to do this. Every day I teach, I realize that what happened in my career-life history previously no longer matters. It is slowly being erased – and I’m finding my path. I don’t quite know why it took me so long to get here. But God is erasing the pain and disappointments of my past and giving me new hope and confidence. He is erasing the hate I had for those who hurt me. He is teaching me to let go.

Now, back to that bay window. When our daughter Grace was about 5 years old, she wrote her name inside the foggy window one snowy January day. Her little, childish penmanship has been left on that window for over 11 years. I never erased it and I just always washed the window around it. I think partly because when I see that word “Grace” as the sun would shine in, I am reminded of my beautiful daughter who is now 16. But even more than that, I am reminded of God’s grace. Rain, shine, snow, fog, happy, dreary, in pain….everyday I would see that word. Grace is a gift. It is a choice. God gives it to us freely – even when we don’t deserve it.

The other day, I sat down in my little teaching corner to work on the computer. Grace came over and said, “Hey mom, remember when you asked me to wash the window sill before our Christmas party? I FINALLY erased my name after all these years too,” she said proudly. I looked up and realized that the word “Grace” was gone and I was staring out of a very clean window. My heart sank a little. I don’t know if it was because I could no longer see the word, “Grace,” as a reminder from God, or that I’d miss my once little child’s handwriting.

“Oh. Thank you, honey.” I said.

“You’re welcome,” she chirped and ran off to her room.

I sat staring at the window the next day and thought of the very powerful word that had been erased. I thought of the many definitions of the word: Grace. I was reminded to SHOW more grace in everything I do; Forgive a little more, let go of some things, move on.

The window is bright and clean now. No more little fingerprint writing from a silly child. The simple, solid, multi-meaning word….”Grace” is gone. It was erased out of love – by my daughter who is growing up too quickly.

I love you, Grace.

 

 

 

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God Winks and Angel Feathers

Last week our daughter came home to tell me something profound happened in the hallway at school during passing time. Knowing what I know about their current school and the struggles we have had the past year, I actually braced myself for the worst. I cringed a little thinking about what fresh hurt I was going to soon hear about. To my surprise, I heard a GOOD Story. One that gave my daughter hope – perhaps set her on her path to future success.

Grace has struggled so much with anxiety this year. Her faith remains strong, and she keeps trekking up the hills. She tells me the story this way:

“Mom, I had something amazing happen today! It is so funny how it all happened, too. It was during the busy hall passing time and I was worrying again. I was worrying about where I was going to go to college , thinking about my life and future career, not knowing what will happen to me – where I will land.” Her brown eyes start to shine – hope swelling up behind them as she speaks.

Grace continues, “Mom, I was at my locker and as I shut it and as the hall cleared, a pencil rolled over to me and landed at my feet – just stopped there. I looked down and saw it said ‘St. Cloud State University.’ I leaned over to pick up that pencil and this amazing feeling of peace and relief fell over me. I can’t say why I picked up that pencil, mom. So many things roll around on the school hallway floor, but this one came right at me and I felt strongly to pick it up.”

By this time, I am actively listening to the story, hanging on and waiting for the details. School doesn’t come easily to Grace, so when she mentions college, I feel this little swell of pride rise up. We can do hard things.

“I picked up that pencil and I knew….I just KNEW that was where I am going to go to college. In fact, I looked up that college, its Special Ed program for kids like me on IEPs, the teacher’s degrees, special education degrees and even cheerleading. Mom – the mascot is the Huskies!!” (If you know our family, you know we have a Siberian Husky named Fawkes and he is one of Grace’s most favorite things in the world. They have an amazing bond.)

Grace loves children and wants to teach. She holds a special place in her heart for kids like herself who struggle in school. She knows what these kids need and she wants to make a difference. “And they have cheerleading”, she said again. Her face lit up with happiness and joy. My heartfire was stoked. And this past week, she has looked into everything SCSU, followed them on social media and generally filled up her mind with dreams and plans.

Later on that evening as Grace was doing homework, I had a thought.

“Grace,” I say.  “You know when that pencil rolled over to you? I like to call those ‘God Winks.’ I didn’t make it up – its a book I have. Its basically, little, tangible reminders from God that He’s listening to you, guiding you, and helping you in your day-to-day life. That SCSU pencil rolling over to your foot today was not a coincidence. It was a God Wink, and you felt it. You listened and you acted on it.”

Grace smiled at me and enthusiastically agreed that God, had indeed, ‘winked’ at her earlier in the day.

I like to believe that God is always winking at us. Some people will say that they notice good smells that remind them of something reminiscent of their past. Others say they find lone, white feathers and feel encouraged to pick them up. I like to believe that finding a penny on the ground, or seeing a single bright red cardinal in a tree is a God Wink. Are we always noticing? No, likley we are not. But if you open your eyes to Jesus and believe He has your very best plan in mind, I think you will find God Winking at you too.

Don’t ignore the God Winks and angel feathers of your life. There is a master plan laid out for you, and I assure you, if you listen to God….He won’t ever steer you wrong. So thank you, Lord for that SCSU pencil rolling over to Gracie. She saw your wink.

Jeremiah 29:11 

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

St. Cloud State University

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Profound Thoughts From Seth -1

Our son is 13 now and proudly working his way to Eagle Scout. Seth has been severely bullied since Elementary school. He’s one of those kids you call, ‘an old soul.’ He has a very high IQ, with a slow processing speed, ADHD, anxiety and OCD. He’s quirky. He has strong opinions – my kid. My Lefty. My Empath.

Seth’s bullying started in third grade. It was severe, with kids harassing him daily on the school bus rides to and from school. At recess, He would sit alone on a bench because when he tried to play with the boys, they had a game where they pretended Seth was invisible.

He likes to come in every day and fill me in on his day at school. I cherish this time with him, as I know he’ll only be mine for a few more short years. He sits down next to me, asks me how I’m doing, what I did that day, and if there’s anything he can get me. For real. He does these things on his own, without any prompting. Its humbling to know he’s mine. Thank you, God for the gift of my boy.

Tonight, he was talking about a new group of girls at school who like to pick on him at lunch, call his name and generally verbally harass him. Eighth grade now, same stupid crap, different school. Somehow though, Seth learned something about himself today, and I will try to write it out here as best as I can.

Seth said that he knows he’s a ‘hot head’ and can often feel himself when he’s ready to blow. He describes it as this:

“Do you know, scientific beakers, mom? The glass kind that are rounded at the bottom and then get narrow and tall at the top? (He demonstrates this to me with his hand.) It’s like I can feel myself filling up that beaker as they hurt me, and I get more and more mad. I know that I need to keep my anger in the rounded part of the beaker, because as soon as it goes past that point from the round bottom into the narrow tube,it will fill up too quickly and will spill right over the top. Do you know what I mean, mom? It’s like a chemical reaction, and I can’t stop that overflow….its too late and the damage is done. I either said the words, or responded and lost my temper, or did something so now they feel they can make even MORE fun of me. And I don’t want my ’emotional beaker’ to overflow like that, mom. I want it to stay nicely poured and not spilled all over. Because once it spills, it damages the paper underneath. And once the damage is done, the paper is always left crinkly and bent. It’s like you can’t fix that paper, or take away the circled stain or uncrinkle it. I dont want to do that sort of damage, make those kind of stains.”

I don’t know about you other moms out here, but by this time in our conversation, I was grateful that our room was semi-dark because my tears were spilling forth like the Hoover Dam. My words didn’t come so easily, but I was able to say something like this:

“Seth, honey, that has got to be THE MOST PROFOUND thing you have ever said to me in our little chats here. It is the BEST description I know of for SO many emotions, our feelings, our reactions, and the often messy aftermath. Son, you are wise beyond your years and you know exactly what you need to do. So don’t let your beaker overflow. You are in control. You are the Master Chemist here.”

Seth sighs and says, “Well… off to do my homework,” as he grabs our little dog Ruby to take with him.

And I remain deep in thought, still sitting here in the dark. But to be really honest, it’s not so dark anymore.

I Am Not Nothing

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The Wooden Path

I have been very sick the past week. I am still healing from a surgery and I am also now sick with a bad virus that seems to be plaguing our family. I have lost my voice, I have a fever, I am coughing and my head feels like an anvil. On the advice of a friend, I finally decided to try Nyquil so I could maybe get some much needed sleep. I have never tried Nyquil and it burns going down. I wonder if it will help, and then I start to get sleepy so I turn in for the night. I must have slept extremely well, because when I woke all I remember is this beautiful dream and feeling fully at PEACE.

In my dream, I see Him standing in the distance: white robe, gold sash, brown hair to his shoulders and a clean beard. I see Him just the way I think most of us think of Jesus. He’s waiting for me on a beautiful parqued wooden path – the pieces of wood delicately angled into tiles in a deep mahogany color, and they feel soft on my feet. Behind Him are two huge doors, also wooden like the path. The two doors are probably 15 feet tall and 10 feet wide. They have shiny, gold, circular handles.

I know something is behind the doors and I want so badly to get to them. But its taking me a very long time to even move closer to Jesus. I know He’s waiting for me and his face is pleasant and relaxed. I do not feel scared, I do, however, feel a very pressing need to get closer to the doors.

As I try to move forward, I see that I am not really making any progress. Jesus does not mind. I know He is waiting patiently for me because I can see it in His eyes. He does not speak to me aloud. Each step I take on the Wooden Path keeps me standing in the same spot, the same distance from Jesus – where I started in my dream. I call out to Him, “Lord, how can I reach you? Why am I stuck – not moving?”

Without saying a word, Jesus tells me what to do: “Lay down your burdens. You haven’t done that like you need to.” I am amazed because I hear this very clear in my mind and all at once I realize that I have not spoken a word, nor has Jesus.

I feel scared, but a big white sack, overflowing drops from behind my head, over my right shoulder and falls at my feet. I hear my Lord say, “Bitterness”. All at once, I am moved closer to Jesus on the Wooden Path.

I am desperate to get closer to Jesus, but again I am stuck. Another large bag drops from behind me on the path at my feet. “Fear.” Again, I hear Jesus speak the word in head and I am moved closer on the Wooden Path towards Him.

It begins to become clear to me that the only way I can move closer to Jesus, is to drop these large heavy bags. The bags contain things that I do not want to let go of: Rage, bitterness, unforgiveness, hate, covetousness, selfishness, stuborness, addictions, excuses.

In my dream, I don’t want to drop the bags, because I feel embarassed and ashamed, as if I can hide them from Jesus. But they are coming from behing me and dropping heavily at my feet at a faster pace now. The beautiful thing is that as each one drops I get closer to my Lord. I find it amazing in my dream because in my real life, I have a frozen right shoulder which hurts all the time and requires weekly physical therapy. I couldn’t possibly lift anything and toss it over my right shoulder in this real world – especially a heavy bag pulled over my back.

I am just about to reach Jesus and I know he is going to forgive me. He says He always forgives me, and starts to reach for me. There is a bright light and I want to be in it, I know it is coming from Jesus and it is behind those doors. I can feel the warmth on my face and feel the bright light behind my closed eyes. I know I’m loved. The light gets brighter and bolder.

My alarm goes off and I open my eyes….just as I see my lamp on my nightstand, slowly dimming somewhat from what seems to be a power surge of brightness. I hit my alarm and lie in bed wondering what I just experienced, but then there is not much time as I have to get my kids up and ready to start their days, too.

Life is hard for me right now and things aren’t always going as I had hoped and planned. I had to give up doing some of the things I truly love and my heart hurts. I am sick, and I am tired and angry at lot of people who hurt me and hurt my family. People I trusted to love us and support me. I put my faith erroneously in PEOPLE.

But then I dreamt of the Wooden Path. Now, whether it was Nyquil, or just a bad fever, I like to think Jesus came to me that night. He knew I was doubting myself, and my relationships, and my faith, and my mothering. I was not looking to Him for my Peace and I was not trusting His Holy Spirit for my guidance. “Lay it down”, Jesus had said.

As I continue to heal, I hope Jesus will come to me in my dreams again. I long for that bright light, His calm face, His Peace radiating through me as I dropped everything I was humiliated and ashamed with at His feet.

Lord, I don’t know where I am going and I still feel lost, but I promise….I will drop it all at Your feet.

I don’t deserve You.

Matthew 11:28-30 Continue reading

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The Hiding

I’m not sure why I’m depressed. I have been my whole life. It’s so funny to me because I hide it so well and I laugh so much. I love life….I do. But I’m tired. And my body hurts, and I’m struggling.

As a child I had terrible anxiety. My first routine barium swallow to look for ulcers was when I was in 3rd grade. My stomach hurt every single day. I remember the fear before school sitting there eating breakfast, oatmeal cold like glue, trying to swallow it down with all my scary thoughts.

I moved several times in my life…cross country….mid school year. I like to think that I did just fine. I made friends, I moved on. But that beast, Anxiety, was always 2 steps behind me, taunting me and telling me I was never good enough. Making me sick. Causing me panic.

To survive and fit in, I learned to laugh a lot, be cheerful, push through. But as I sit here now in my mid 40’s, I realize that I never really grieved all that change, all that anxiety and fear. The hurting. The hiding.

Now I have two precious kids of my own who struggle with anxiety. I’m told the depression and anxiety they have is genetic, and God bless them they have it on BOTH sides. So it’s up to me to soldier on for us all…not unlike other parents do, I’m sure.

What gets hard for me, is how awful I feel myself most days. I struggle with Fibromyalgia, CFS, Chronic EBV, and I’ve had 7 surgeries to date. As I try to hurry and heal from this last one, I feel the sinking disappointment that I may never feel 100% better. People dont understand chronic pain unless they live it. It makes you hurt deeply physically and emotionally, it makes you miss out on the fun, and people treat you like you’re lazy – a quitter – a complainer.

I’ve been up front in my church countless times to be “healed” and I beat myself up later that maybe I just didn’t believe hard enough. Maybe my sickness is my fault, maybe God thinks it’s not enough to radically change my life. Maybe I don’t deserve the healing because of a lifetime of baggage that I buried instead of dropping it at the feet of Jesus. I’m still carrying that baggage. And I’m still sick. I haven’t been to church in quite awhile because its so emotionally painful for me. I’m not sure why.

Depression, anxiety, and pain are the enemy- and I know that enemy prowls around like a lion looking to devour. The enemy comes for me daily in my pain and he works his way into the sweet minds of my children.I tell myself several times a day that fear is a liar. Some days its just so hard…to feel ok myself and still mother and love both my children’ needs. To just plain get out of bed and live for them.

I know I am the beloved of God. I have it tattooed on my arm and written on my heart. I just wish my earthly pain wasn’t so hard. The war rages on as I keep looking for the answers, for me, my kids, for all who reach out to me. And if you find me here hiding….I’m here for you too.

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and rescues those who are crushed in spirit.” -Ps. 34:18

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Chaos

Messy. Unorganized. Chaotic. Life with 2 ADHD kids is challenging. When you have ADHD, your life becomes messy very quickly. I’ve seen it happen with so many. Ask yourself or your ADHD pals the following:

-Do you have trouble remembering things? Homework, appointments etc?
-Is your room, home, desk, closet, kitchen often an unorganized mess?
-Does your bedroom look like a small bomb went off? Clothing explosion?
-Are papers and mail strewn all over in piles haphazardly?
-Do you tend to hoard items, often piling them in all areas of the house?
-Is laundry a never ending cycle of living out of baskets and clothing pieces strewn all over your home?

If you answered “Yes” to any or all of these questions, you’re not alone. If you yourself have ADHD, or you live/work with someone that does, chances are there is an ongoing struggle in the area of Executive Function- which is the driving force behind organization and initiative as it applies to all life skills and daily tasks.

I came across a link that I think is of interest and may help you or someone you love with getting organized and staying on task. Attitudemag.com has some amazing articles. Getting and staying organized (either for yourself, or for your family) doesn’t have to be overwhelming. You can do it! I’ll be right here doing it with you. And yes, I have mail piles and laundry baskets all over, too. Because…LIFE HAPPENS! Just don’t go losing yourself in all that chaos.

How to Finish What You Start

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